8/22/2014

Return Our CPF – 23 Aug 4pm @ HLP


The speakers for 23 Aug 4pm #ReturnOurCPF – HLP will be as follows:

4.00pm – 4.15pm Mr. Patrick Low
4.15pm – 4.30pm Mr. Jeremy Lim
4.30pm – 4.45pm Ms. Janet Low
4.45pm – 5.00pm Mr. Shawn Lee
5.00pm – 5.15pm Mr. John Ng
5.15pm – 5.30pm Mr. Leong Sze Hian
5.30pm – 5.45pm Ms. Han Hui Hui
5:45pm – 6:00pm Mr. Roy Ngerng
 

For the information of those who are interested.

Kopi Level - Green

Money making and conscience


When I wrote the piece on the gardens and parks I have not read the ST yet. When I flipped over the pages this morning the whole issue was the main focus today. And they also talked about Chek Jawa and other islands with their wildlife. Would they also encourage the crowd and tourists to go trampling in these water treasures to tell everyone that the sites are well visited, with a lot of crowds? Any nature lovers would be worried sick. They often refused to disclose the sites and locations of birds and their nests etc for fear of the crowd.
 

The other big issue is the cost of medicine. Now everyone is pointing his finger at everyone for the madness in medical fees. Some even uttered that they did not know what are the causes of high medical fees. Fortunately there are many caring medical practitioners with conscience and are spilling the beans on foul practices and overcharging. But it will go on and on, just like legal fees. The higher the fees the more successful the practice, and the more dignity for the practitioners.
 

When people are desperate and ignorant, when they are in trouble and have to see the doctors and the lawyers, they are most vulnerable and ready for the knives. The sheep are marching to the slaugherhouse on their own, and everyone knows the practice and the plight of these sheep. No, didn’t know? All is fair mah. You want good service, you pay for it lah.
 

And the SMA was so hapless. If they come out with price guidelines, they would contravene fair practice acts and all the shits. They cannot have guidelines on prices! Buay sai one! They are being virtuous and following the law. I believe them, sure, I believe them. And the issue is so complex that they could not find a better way to overcome the high medical fee problem. Maybe they could set up a review committee. Maybe they could ask the public for suggestions to lower the fees. I just remember, public consultation papers, consulting the public is the answer to all problems.
 

Maybe they should bring in some foreign talents to teach them how. Or maybe they should send a few study missions overseas to learn from other country’s fine practices.
 

We are now so lost as to how to cut down medical fees. We were also so lost at one time about how to solve the housing problem. We are still lost at how to return the CPF money to the people. Maybe we need to increase the pay of the super talents so that they will use their super brains to come up with some better solutions to help the people. Oops, I shouldn’t say things like helping the people. This is a very scary phrase to use.
 

Maybe it will take a few hundred man years to review this problem of high cost and high fees. Maybe nothing can be done, it is market practice, or imported inflation. Maybe we need to wait for the next GE.

Kopi Level - Green

The money mind of robotic Sinkies


Good news that Zouk is given a 3 year conditional extension. Zouk is an institution to the young and beautiful. It is part of their lives. Many grew up with Zouk and have fond memories of the nightclub. Their memories would last another 3 years before being wiped away completely when its lease expires. It would be moved to a new place, just like everything in this island.
 

Moving, moving and moving under a regime of demolition and reconstruction. Everything must be brought down and rebuilt. Every place must draw in the crowd to justify its value to exist. Sentosa is undergoing an expensive renovation to spruce up its attractions to draw in the crowd. Orchard Road has done that quite successfully.
 

Those parks that are not drawing in the crowd will have to buck up or make way for new attractions. Top on the list are the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden in Jurong. They are quite empty, not drawing in the crowd. What a waste of space. Some of the people that grew up with fond memories of the gardens did not think so and feeling a sense of loss. Their memories will disappear with the demolition of the parks. They want to make it better, with more money.
 

They are expecting the gardens to be like Orchard Road and Sentosa, and Zouk. They want to pack them in. Has anyone seen what the Japanese Garden is like? It is created in the concept of Zen, spatial and serene, for people to seek refuge away from the hums and bustling of a hectic and vibrant city life. The gardens are meant to be that way, peace and tranquility for those who wanted it to be that way. Those who love the bustles of the city and remain in the city, stay away from the gardens.
 

The Sinkie mentality is about crowds, the more the better. The trains must be crowded to be profitable, and a measure of success. The parks must be filled to the brims to justify its existence. The lack of visitors or too few visitors means the park must go or renovated, refurbished and new attractions added to draw in the crowd.
 

Sungei Buloh is probably in jeopardy. The only crowd they got were the uncles and aunties from the community centres and RCs that came by the busloads. And they would chatter and clatter all the way. Some would blast their radios or mobile phones for the birds and animals to enjoy. You know that they are in the reserves from a mile away.
 

If they are not visiting the reserves, the place would be too quiet. I hope no one is trying to build more artificial attractions like plastic dinosaurs and hippos in the river to attract the crowd. The reserves are meant to be that way. They are sanctuaries for the birds and animals, to be protected from the rowdy crowd.
The Chinese and Japanese Gardens and the Botanic Gardens are also meant to be that way, sanctuaries of peace and quite, solitude and silence. Must they attract all the Orchard Road crowd, the Zouk type, or those who enjoy the crushed in the trains?
 

Please leave the gardens and the parks and reserves alone. They are the last few places for those who need some sanity to retreat to. Thank you. Don’t always think of money and more artificial attractions like Sentosa and those in the Garden by the Bay.

Kopi Level - Green

8/21/2014

The beheading of American journalist James Foley

The tragic and sad video of the beheading of James Foley is the stark truth of what the Americans have unleashed with their invasions of the Arab countries. The killing of the dictators is like removing the chain that was used to restrain the evil force trapped inside a bottle. Now the full force of evil has exploded and many will face even more vicious and tragic terror from this force.
 

It would need the Americans and the West greater force and resources and determination to stop the spread of this terror that is now sweeping across the Arab world.
 

America, you have sowed and released this evil force and it is your duty and responsibility to put it back into the bottle. Failing to do so will wreck havoc and tragedies to many innocent people, and perhaps to the American people as well. James Foley is just the beginning.
 

Now the whole world is watching how this terror is spreading and how far and wide it would affect them. Thank you America, or no thanks America. Please do the necessary to stop this evil force from spreading.

Kopi Level - Green

Fukushima – Singaporeans not kiasu and not kiasi


A report on 13 Jan 2013 by a Roland Kelts in the Smart Planet site said this,
‘At a testy meeting last fall between government representatives and farmers from Sukagawa and Soma, two of Fukushima’s largest food-producing areas, one Sukagawa farmer noted that the government approves of shipments of food that test below 100 becquerels (units of radioactivity) per kilogram, lower than its original 500 Bq limit (and in line with global standards), selling it at below-market value. But he would not allow his own family to eat the food he is allowed to sell. “We won’t eat it ourselves, but you tell us to sell it to others. Do you know how guilty this makes us feel? There is no pride or joy in our work anymore.”’

Singapore is starting to import rice from Fukushima starting with 300 kg in August. It was reported that the batch of rice would be put under ‘rigorous screening’ before shipment to Singapore. The problem with the Japanese is that ‘neither its producers nor consumers trust them(Japanese Govt) anymore’.
 

This shipment is going to be screened by the Japanese govt first. And very likely it would be screened by our NEA as well. So, how many of you are crazy enough to want to eat rice from Fukushima? Or how many of you are so desperate as if there is no other rice available that you must eat Fukushima rice?
 

The thing about radioactivity is that you don’t need to eat it to be contaminated. Just being near it would do the damage if the radioactive particles are above the safe level. And food products near it would also be affected. You cannot screen the radiation by putting up a shield of papers or plastic from nearly food. And radioactive products have an extraordinary long life.
 

Now who says Singaporeans are kiasu and kiasi? We are braving ourselves to taste the Fukushima products when others won’t dare.

Kopi Level - Green

For those who have, more would be added to them


This is an ancient wisdom. It is like the rich will get richer. It must be their goodness, their good karma, to have more and more. Try applying this wisdom to the modern day society, it means that the rich will get more and more wealth. This is very similar to capitalism and the end result is a widening income gap.
This kind of wisdom, or shall I call it wisdom at all, is unsustainable and does not serve much purpose except to create a divide so wide that eventually will lead to the downfall of the rich. But that is another story.
 

Why would a country want to create a system where the rich are so rich, with money can’t finish spending, and still throwing money at them? And I am not referring to the rich making money in the private sector but public service, being paid by public fund. Many are so rich, they don’t need more money to make them richer as they have enough for generations to come, and the more money given to them could reach a point that it does not motivate them anymore, does not make them smarter or more productive. Some may even utter what is another $10m? They are so numb by the money they have.
 

The other issue is that the money must come from somewhere, or someone else could get a bit more but ended up getting less. It is a zero sum game. There is a budget or a pool of money and how this is distributed will affect everyone in the pool. If more money is loaded on the rich, the rest will simply get lesser. The question is what for?
 

Why pay an employee millions and millions when there is no need to, when he could live a very comfortable life with a couple of millions or a few hundred thousands? On the other hand why squeeze the poor or less rich to be poorer?
 

The rich shall have more added to them…living the biblical wisdom.

Kopi Level - Green

CPF – The same logic is applicable both ways

There is this anonymous commentator in my blog that is very persistent with the govt’s version of ‘What if he spent all his savings after withdrawing everything from CPF?’ To this commentator, this is good enough reason for the govt to justify keeping all the retirees’, all not one or two that would squander their money away, money in the CPF and to decide how much and when to let them have some of the money to spend. By posing that question the govt is passing the buck to the people. You are now responsible for coming out with an answer if not it means the govt’s solution is the best, the govt has the right to keep your money.

This kind of ‘yeh mun’ (pronounce in Mandarin) logic is only sound as long as the person using it is in power. And it is a very dangerous logic as it can be apply to all kinds of flimsy situation to the disadvantage of the people. Why should not the same question be posed to the govt? Sure, and the govt will say that is why the govt has to keep the money for the people for their good.

Ok, don’t ask this question. Sure lose if the other side is ‘yeh mun’ type. The govt is so afraid that all the people will spend their life savings and ended up no money for retirement. If the govt can fear the people squandering their miney, can the people likewise fear the govt for squandering away all their money in the CPF? Is this a reasonable fear?

The govt is made up of people, ordinary people that the people elected to represent them in Parliament. If they are not elected, they will be just like you and me, as smart as you and me, or as stupid as you and me. And if we can squander our CPF money away, the same kind of people in the govt can equally do the same notwithstanding some of them may arrogate themselves to be immortals or super talents.

The people have many avenues to squander away their money. Sure, go to Batam, go drinking, go frolicking, go gambling. Does the govt have equal or more opportunities to squander the people’s savings away? I am not saying they will. But they make big decisions, they think big, they have big appetite, they like expensive toys, expensive mega projects, queer pet projects, like winning the World Cup or gold medals, hold big parties and celebrations, go overseas with all kinds of good reasons. And they invest very very big. A wrong decision, wrong timing, or being conned by snake oil sellers, can be very costly.

The people have all the reasons to fear the govt spending away their money too. That is why they are protesting at Hong Lim to want to know what is happening to their money. The people have all the rights to fear the govt as the govt is made up of ordinary men and women, not gods, not immortals, not infallible. They may want to pass the risk to so called foreign talents to manage the money. This is equally, if not more dangerous, as the people hired could turn out to be turkeys.

How much have the govt lost during the Lehman bonds and toxic notes crisis and the global financial crisis? Sure no small peanuts, but more like golden peanuts.

The question is, who should fear who, the govt fearing the people squandering their money or the people fearing the govt squandering away their money? Can the people apply same logic and same solution on the govt, to control the purse of the govt and only allow them limited money to spend just in case?

What do you think? The boys and girls in charge of your CPF money are infallible?


Kopi Level - Green