12/19/2014

NSmen no need to obey illegal orders – Judge


In a sweeping precedence setting ruling, District Judge Low Wee Ping made a judgement that NSFs ‘do not need to obey a manifestly illegal or unlawful order.’ This came about after the death of a NSman when the jeep he was in overturned. The driver was ordered to drive the jeep despite telling his superior that he did not have a driving lesson to drive class 3 vehicles.
 

The judge went further to order ‘lawyer Laurence Goh, a senior officer in the SAF, to get the message out that NSFs need not obey any order that is illegal or manifestly unlawful.’ How would this judgement affect the NSmen and regular soldiers when they are ordered by their superior to do something illegal?
 

An example that is waiting to happen is a ‘freak’ election and the soldiers ordered to take over the country to prevent a newly elected party to form the new govt. In such a situation, if a new political party is legitimately voted to power, and should someone decides to declare the election a ‘freak election’, not even a fraud election when no fraud is found, how would the soldiers react? How would the soldiers determine if the order is illegal and manifestly unlawful or otherwise?
 

What if the order comes from the incumbent Prime Minister who has lost the election or the incumbent President who is still constitutionally serving his term as the President? Who would decide whether the order is legal and lawful?
 

When such a situation becomes a reality, there will be judgement calls demanded on the soldiers to decide to obey and follow the order or to defy the order as being illegal and unlawful. It would be a difficult moment for the soldiers in charge even if a judge has made a ruling on illegal orders and make it known to all the soldiers.
 

Let’s hope Singapore would not have to face such a day and the soldiers would not have to be challenged by such an order and be put in a dilemma to choose between obeying an order and disobeying an illegal and unlawful order.

Kopi Level - Green

12/18/2014

Clash of civilizations


What happened in Peshawar, Pakistan and Sydney are very painful to bear. 135 students killed and counting, in a military school, children and students mowed down by 6 Talebans. You can cry until no tears, the agony of the parents and families is beyond comprehension.
 

We are in the 21st Century. Many nations and people have moved forward, discarded the primitive ways of life when lives were cheap and short. Nations and people developed and progressed at different pace and speed. Many countries and nations are still steep in their primitive and tribal ways. Many things that are abhorring to modern man are still normal to some of these civilizations. It is best to let them live their lives at their own pace and progressed and be civilized in their natural order of things.
 

Do not stir the hornet’s nest of tribalism. Do not force your way of life on them. But this is exactly what the Americans had done. The Americans do not want to leave these people alone. They poked their fingers in all the wrong holes. Now they are scattered all over the world, for the right and wrong reasons, for real or fake. Two different worlds collided in the same pot and they clashed. Both are incompatible to the other in many ways. Without the Americans stirring shit everywhere, the movement and migration of people across countries and civilizations would take a more gradual and acceptable pace with people moving to seek a better life only when they wanted to, and in smaller numbers.
 

With the Americans bombing and tearing down their countries, millions of refugees are set in motion and forced to move, not because they wanted to live in a different place, in a different country with different culture and belief systems and ways of life. The push factor was too strong for them to stay put. They moved out from an intolerable place without choice. And many would be in places and countries they did not want to be and would not want to accept the way of life and customs and values of their countries of adoption. They will become problems to their host nations.
 

We are seeing clashes of civilizations everywhere today, different people unable to adapt and unwilling to accept different ways of life but forced to be together by forces beyond their control.
 

Would be better for people with the same way of life and value systems be staying and living together than for them to squeeze together in a place where both did not want to belong? The Americans should stop their shit stirring. Their cronies should also stop joining the act to make living unbearable for local inhabitants and forcing them to move out of their countries. They are just accomplices to stirring the hornet’s nest and the hornets would spread and can sting at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Do not be a party to disrupting people’s way of life. Leave people alone to live their lives and settle their own problems especially when the gap between the civilizations is too wide to patch. Not wanting to desist in meddling with other people in other people’s country will only bring pain and suffering to one’s own country and people in a matter of time.
 

Leave other people alone to live their own ways of life if you do not want a repeat of 911, Sydney or like the school in Peshawar.
 

PS: The Americans did all these things in style. Just press a button and the drones or smart bombs will be on their way. You don’t see the gore and the victims, you don’t hear the screaming and the cries from where you pressed the button. So it is ok, fun, and nothing to cry about. At most imagine it is a work of Hollywood, surreal.

Kopi Level - Green

Singapore will be in deep trouble, now you know


Today Singaporeans are greeted with two pieces of depressing news. Two of the country’s largest monopolies, the transport companies and the HDB are in trouble, with the HDB announcing a deficit of $2b! Cannot imagine how a monopoly housing developer that controls everything, from land prices, contractors, construction workers and pricing of the units for sale could lose so much money over a year.
 

In the case of the transport companies, with oil prices hitting the roof, I think, with labour cost going up and up, with bonuses going up and up for good performances, with upgrading and more new buses and trains, it cannot be helped but to apply for fare hikes. And the govt is so kind, Lui Tuck Yew said the maximum allowed to hike is 2.8%. And the transport companies will be helping a lot of commuters to lower the fares for them. Where in the world got so good things. The companies must be running at a loss and need higher fares to cover their operating costs, and still got to help commuters like students, seniors and concession card holders. If not how to justify for fare hikes? Say thank you quickly and for the little mercy of only 2.8% fare hikes. Be grateful.
 

As for the HDB, it is giving so much subsidies and discounts and losing $2b is very lucky. Please don’t ask them how they arrived at the big loss. It is embarrassing. Just accept it like all the good analysts and housing agencies did. The figures are honest, transparent and fully accountable. So the loss must be real.
 

Maybe HDB should bring back Mah Bow Tan to manage it. The losses would be much lower, maybe $1b. Or maybe should ask Liew Mun Leong or Quek Leng Beng or Redas to assist the HDB on how to run the biggest monopoly public housing agency and still make money. This kind of operation requires geniuses and private entrepreneurs’ talent to do the trick. But if these people claim conflict of interests and refuse to come on board, go around the world to find the best talented CEO to take over. Just issue the guy with a pink IC and all the problem will be solved. India and China and even the Philippines would have such talents and most willing to take the job with the pay we are paying. They may even settle for half the pay as they are hungry and will work doubly hard. Then HDB would be able to sell highly subsidized public flats and no need to lose so much money.
 

Maybe the opposition parties can volunteer to take up the challenge to run HDB for a term. Oops, maybe a term is too short, not fair, how about a long term, say 20 years or 30 years to turn HDB around and make HDB owners happy as well? This type of projects cannot be for short term one, the duration of each building programme is at least 4 years. The WP should propose this in Parliament to take over HDB for the next 30 years. This is only reasonable as short term sure got short term problems. In the long run everything will be fine.
 

But if all things remain the same, please make sure the PAP remains in power or Singapore will be in deep trouble. HBD and public transport are two good examples to show how wrong things can be.

Kopi Level - Green

12/17/2014

What if Obama say these?


Obama stood in Congress and warned the Americans that the USA would be in deep trouble if the Democrats lost the next general election. He also warned that in a freak election he would move in the army to take over the country.
 

Can anyone imagine Obama threatening the Americans with such a scenario? Can anyone imagine Obama following up with the threat that the American womanfolks would become maids and Americans would become boat refugees?
 

I can’t imagine this would be said in the American Congress. But don’t worry, if Obama or any American President would dare to say it the whole Congress will burst out in laughters. They will give him a standing ovation before chasing him out of the White House with a broom stick.
 

The Americans would not take this kind of comments lightly from their politicians, not from their President. That is how mature their system is and how the thinking of their people have become. They are really first world and not 3rd World with 3rd World mentality. Obama would not dare insult the Americans and treat them like dafts? But Obama would be smart enough not to do it. It is the USA!
 

Has Singapore arrived, knocking at the gate of the 3rd World? See the difference? The language of politicians in the US and Sin City and their vocabulary are very different. But they can’t be saying the same kind of things, Obama is not a super talent, no standard. That is the difference. In Singapore we have freedom of speech and can say anything.
 

PS: Kishore asked if we can laugh at ourselves with cartoons and be the butt of our own jokes?

Kopi Level - Green

Property Tax is a wealth tax


‘Property tax is a wealth tax, levied on property ownership.’ This is the reply from Kelly Wee, Director(Corporate Communications), Inland Revenue in her letter in the ST forum on 15 Dec. She was responding to complaints by the public about the property tax levied on HDB owners. This tax on HDB properties is now subject to a lot of public criticism as many now realized that they are but 99 year lessees. And this is not the same as 99 lessees of private properties when the latter assumed full ownership of the property during the lease with very few restrictions and no need to pay a cut to HDB when the property is sold.
 

The HDB ownership is cumbersome and comes with many restrictions that remind the HDB ownerships who is the real and ultimate owner. Just believe whatever you want to believe, as owners or lessees.
Property tax as a tax on the wealth of the people becomes questionable for many reasons. On face value, a HDB flat is temporary wealth on short term. In the long run, when the lease expires, it is no longer wealth. Its value is zero. Where is the wealth? Can the HDB owners ask for refund on the tax paid when the wealth is gone?
 

Many HDB owners are occupants of their flats. They live there for their whole life, a home, a roof over their heads. If not there is no where else to go. Other than those that rent out the flats, the only benefit is the right to live in the flats.
 

Compare this with private properties. These are real wealth and very big wealth. If the govt is taxing on the wealth of the people, why aim at the poor HDB owners or lessees, particularly the smaller HDB flats? Many could barely afford to pay for them. And the problem will get increasingly problematical to the retirees without an income, and still got to squeeze out whatever little savings left to pay for property tax.
 

Why is there no tax on the filthy rich when there is real wealth, horrendous wealth, in their estates? Why is the govt so quick in abolishing estate duties to free the very rich from paying anything from their rich estates? Are the estates of private properties in the millions and hundreds of millions not wealth? And taxing on the poor HDB flat lessees with an expiring lease as wealth? Many of the private properties and estates are freehold or 999 year lease, the real wealth, and not taxable under estate duties. Is this a case of taxing the poor and freeing the super rich from taxes?
 

GST is to help the poor? How many believe this story or agree to the logic of this story?

Kopi Level - Green

The arrogance of Power

American Exceptionalism is touted as some kind of a right that is granted to the Americans. They can do anything they want, to kill, to meddle with other countries domestic affairs, to threaten countries with sanctions, regime change, to incite and provoke wars. They can have the biggest military forces, the most nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, but others are not allowed to have. They can talk down to countries about human rights but they could violate every human rights against anyone, at home or abroad. And the silly Afro Asians love them and accept this Exceptionalism as the law to abide by. And they pray to the Americans for being able to act so exceptionally and so arrogantly.
 

The audacity of it all is like someone living in the biggest glass house and throwing stones at everyone, not a bit shy or shameful that others could throw stones back at the big glass house that is fully transparent with all the faults and flaws for all to see.
 

Where else can one see such arrogance of power, do as I tell you, but not do like I do. Don’t cheat, but I can cheat. Be honest and transparent but don’t look at me. I am different, beyond reproach, for I hold all the powers there is. I dictate the rule of the game for others to play. I don’t need to play by the rules I set. I am above the rule of law, rule of decency, rule of deceit, rule of fair play, rule of transparency, rule of anything. I am the Master of the Universe, I am God.
 

Everyone must play by my rules. Everyone must not cheat. I can. And no one is allowed to say I cheat. I will come down very hard on those who dare say I cheat.
 

This is Exceptionalism. This is American Exceptionalism. Anyone wanting to imitate the Americans must possess the absolute power to rule over the helpless masses like the Americans hammering the Muslims and the Arabs to smithereens and acquiescence. What torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib? Only the Americans can do it and get away with it.
 

Rule of Law?

Kopi Level - Green

12/16/2014

India, the superpower pretender


‘Recession plagued Russia needs India more than before.’ This is the subheading of an article, Old bedfellows, but commercially disjointed, by Sreenam Chaulia. Other than this catchy subtitle, the whole article was all about how great India is, and about India’s super power ambition, about India’s zone of influence, which are understandable, just like the award of Modi with the Asian of the Year Award for doing nothing except hurling rhetoric of how great India could be.
 

Back to the subtitle, Russia needs India more than before, or is it India needs Russia more than before? What is it that Russia needs from India other than money which India has very little? The truth, as Sreenam elaborated in his article is that India needs a lot of things from Russia and not the other way.
 

India is aspiring to be a super power but lacks everything a super power has except making hollow speeches of greatness and potential of greatness. What India needs from the Russians are weaponry, nuclear power stations for the high grade plutonium for nuclear weapons, of course the energy potential, the natural gases, fighter aircraft and aircraft technology, the submarines, aircraft carriers, cutting edge technology, not low budget engineering.
 

What can India offer to Russia? The minuscule trade figures tell the whole story. Putin is pushing for a US$100b trade with China next year. India is talking about a US$10b trade with the Russians. And Russia is willing to sell, can the Indians afford to buy? What is there for the Indians to sell to the Russians, maybe some foodstuff.
 

So, who needs who more? Russia needs India more? What can the Indians offer the Russians? Maybe the next article will be Singapore needs India more than India needs Singapore.

Kopi Level - Blue, thank you.