We all go back to where we belong

In case anyone’s wondering, this blog hasn’t been hacked by the Messiah, nor was it “under maintenance”, even if it shares similar characteristics of low readership and poor security with the hacked Straits Times blog and obscure government web pages that might attract a hacktivist or two. If anything, there’s just a bit of neglect going on as I am currently in transition and too busy to write. When R.E.M. retired in 2011 after a 30-year career, they released their last single “We All Go Back To Where We Belong”. You can check out one of the two videos for…



Govt rejects poverty line, says prosperity line better for social objective

SINGAPORE — The government was today baffled by calls from social workers and experts to define an official poverty line, when the problem had been declared extinct a good twelve years ago. It was in 2001 when former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani proudly told the world: “There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in Singapore. Poverty has been eradicated.” With such a bold proclamation coming from a respected thought leader and current Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, government officials have since operated on the premise that poor people exist only in third world countries. “Poverty?…

If we read more into this little statement “they are comparing apples with lemons”, it sounds like a Freudian slip by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan. He was fending off queries in Parliament on why studio flats are more expensive than 2-room flats of the same size, despite the much shorter lease of 30 years. Why not just say apples with oranges like everyone else? I wonder if it was a slip of tongue or just a fancy choice of words. Do mind your language please, or your colleague Indranee Rajah may end up twerking in disapproval. Whatever that…

PM succession doesn't have to follow old ways

Chan Chun Sing’s promotion to full minister back in August reignited discussion on who is poised to be the next Prime Minister. Succession is expected around the year 2020. Most observers believe Heng Swee Keat and Mr Chan are frontrunners for the job, followed by the likes of Tan Chuan Jin and Lawrence Wong. All four, with Sim Ann, were part of the newly elected “fabulous five” in the 2011 General Election. Prevalent in the discussion is the legitimate concern that should one of these end up as the next PM, he or she will have less than ten years…

Singapore Day: Let's cut OSU some slack

Singapore Day is an event organised by the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) that gets rotated around major cities every year. It was held in Sydney, Australia last Saturday. A Caucasian man was turned away at this Singaporeans-only event and subsequently decided to complain to his local radio station that it was “racist” that he and his father weren’t allowed in. He also claimed that the park, where the event was held, is public space and there were no indications that non-Singaporeans were not allowed on the advertisements. We can only surmise that in his zest to enjoy the Singaporean food…

Grow or bust

Based on a true story. A fat man walks into a clinic one day. “Good morning, mister, how can I help you today?” asks the doctor. “Hey doc, I have a problem,” the man says, not looking too happy. “I’ve been on a supersized diet for the last forty years. It used to make me strong and muscular, fitter than everyone else, but in the last twenty years or so I have grown so much, now I have difficulty getting around. “Everyone hates me because everywhere I go, I jam up the space. In trains, in buses, on the streets,…

World War II poster

Back in the days when I did my 2 years 4 months of National Service, it never crossed my mind whether the system was fair or unfair to us guys with regard to the opposite sex or to foreigners. That is not to say that I enjoyed NS. In fact, like many others, I think of it as the biggest waste of time in my life. I hated it, from all the regimental restrictions to the stupid wayangs to an unmeritocratic system where a veteran warrant officer has to address a commissioned officer fresh out of OCS as “Sir”. The…

Supporters cheered when Mr Mah woke from a long slumber

Former minister for national development Mah Bow Tan has revealed in an interview that he had retired from politics after his wife had urged him to sleep at home instead, and not because he was caught doing so on the job as widely believed. Two years after stepping down from his post, the MP for Tampinese GRC said he had left office with no complaints or regrets. When he retired after the 2011 General Election, there was widespread surprise that he had actually been around for the preceding decade. Many were under the impression he had retired in 1999, when…

Irrelevant picture but that's what papers put when they talk about jobs

The Fair Consideration Framework is a good new development, even if it’s another example of the government playing catch-up on a problem Singaporeans have been facing for years. While it is true that errant companies can still get around the rules quite easily, it is still better than nothing. We will see how it goes. Anyway, more stringent checks can always be added later if necessary. In case you haven’t realised, this government doesn’t do major revamps. It prefers timid little steps because everything is about not upsetting investor confidence. Just look at how many rounds of property cooling measures…

Your monthly payment reminder

One of the main worries over a slowing Chinese economy is the proliferation of its shadow banking industry, where non-bank lenders such as hedge funds and special investment vehicles grant loans to companies without regulatory oversight. It is feared that hidden debt levels and unrestrained risk taking may trigger a far-reaching crisis in a severe slowdown. In Singapore, two forms of unregulated shadow industries are thriving as well, one also related to alternative lending and the other of a very different kind. And we saw these past two weeks how both government action and inaction could fuel their growth further….

Sumiko has a crush

Dear Sumiko, I feel you. I really do. I read with interest your latest column on your addiction with the game Candy Crush Saga. Having started on the game myself, just a month before you (this April), I thought I might share some views here. Because like you, I have been spending many hours on this game; and I am still going strong. Like any self-respecting addict, however, I do not think I am addicted to the game at all. No, seriously. In fact, if I could offer you a piece of advice, it will be: Don’t fight it. Embrace…

This is not cool

Over 70% of people polled by the Land Transport Authority are in favour of imposing a surcharge on multiple-car ownership. The LTA itself was open to the idea, and specifically invited suggestions for this in the public consultation. It was only the difficulty of implementation that deterred it from doing so. As The Straits Times reported, experts agreed that there is no easy way. Personally, I belong to the 30% who are not keen on the idea. Not because I own multiple cars or intend to, but because it means imposing more rules to fix a COE system that is…