Questions on town councils-AIM transaction

There are too many unanswered questions pertaining to this software transaction between the town councils and AIM. As long as the mainstream media chooses to stay silent and not report anything until there is a ready explanation from the officials, it is crucial that we continue to press for answers. But first off, we must not focus on the wrong aspects. Netizens should not harp on about sale-and-leaseback transactions which are not uncommon in business and accounting. In fact, the decision not to hold on to a costly asset on the TCs’ books might make better financial sense. Small companies…

Vox populi and the vocal online community

Vox populi and the vocal online community

This is a strange one from Mr Leslie Koh of The Straits Times (Online voices = vox populi?). But, you know, stranger things have been written in this newspaper. Perhaps it was a slow news day in the holiday season. The only part that I do agree with Mr Koh is that social media does not represent the voice of the majority, nor do I believe it claims to be. As he rightly pointed out, the number of Singaporeans who are active on political and social forums is very, very small. I doubt even 10% of Singaporeans regularly visit websites…

"Have you checked out Penjuru?"

District 9, Singapore-style

By District 9, I’m not referring to the posh Orchard Road area. Quite the opposite, but I will come to that in a bit. The Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) is proving to be more than just a one day news hit wonder. In fact, it’s in the local news on an almost daily basis since I last poured sarcasm on its after the fact display of philanthropy. Perhaps I was too harsh on them. Let’s hope this is not just a knee-jerk reaction after being caught missing in action following the recent series of worker troubles. With its links to…

Fancy this for a last meal?

End of winter, and the world. And zombies

Next time could someone please, as a matter of basic courtesy, inform me in advance if the end of the world is nigh? After all, I’m not one to catch up on my daily horoscopes, nor pay much attention to visits by celestial beings. So imagine my horror to read in the news today that Apocalypse will be upon us this Dec 21. What does that leave me — four days? Four days to sort out all my affairs and prepare for impending doom? Surely that cannot be sufficient. I would have sold all my belongings and gone travel the…

Fair and equitable

What makes a fair wage?

As they say, a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. But what exactly constitute a fair wage? At the most fundamental level, a fair wage is one that, in exchange for, a worker willingly provides a service to an employer, and that the employer willingly compensates the worker for this service it is receiving. It is simple demand and supply coming together in the labour market where neither party is coerced into entering such a contract of service. In the financial markets, we call this price discovery. In a closed labour market, wages should adjust to reflect the…

Michael Palmer

10 talking points on the Michael Palmer affair

10 quick observations and talking points on the Michael Palmer affair: PAP is smart to quickly sort out this mess and Mr Palmer even faced the cameras, after the lesson learned from the Yaw Shin Leong saga that Workers’ Party kept silent on for too long. Cynics will believe that politicians never come clean unless there is imminent danger of an exposé. What exactly led Mr Palmer to confess to his party? Now that a recent precedent has been set in Hougang, PAP cannot not call a by-election without being accused of trying to hold on to a seat unconstitutionally….

You can have the flag. I'm off to my second career.

A SAF military infiltration

The Straits Times report that SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek is looking to hire more senior SAF officers to beef up his management team was, not surprisingly, greeted with some incredulity from Singaporeans. We are well aware of the ubiquitous presence of retired generals and admirals given easy passages into top-ranking posts in the PAP, government agencies and GLCs based solely on their achievements in the SAF. And after the recent troubles at SMRT with its current ex-army CEO and former CEO from a similarly unrelated retail background, it is right that we must question if their experience in the armed…

"Erm.. what's the name of this centre again?"

Yeo Guat Kwang the saviour has arrived

I’m feeling generous today, so let’s start off this post with not one but two jokes: Question: How can MP Yeo Guat Kwang single-handedly create 65 jobs for the economy without lifting a finger? Answer: By retiring. In case you are wondering, the question and answer make up one joke. The other lies somewhere in the question. Yeo Guat Kwang, as some may know, is the super hardworking PAP MP with 65 jobs. And the reason he’s mentioned here is because he has suddenly popped up all over the news with something to say as chairman of Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC)…

"How do I account for all these?"

Muddy Waters vs Olam + Temasek: An issue that warrants a look

As a writer, I relish the many ways I can pun the headline when commenting on an issue such as this. As a Singaporean, I’m not sure this is the time to get all nationalistic about it. Here’s a summary if you haven’t been following the saga. It started on November 19 when California-based research firm Muddy Waters and its owner Carson Block raised serious questions at a London investment conference about the accounting practices of Singapore-listed commodities trader Olam. Likening it to Enron, Muddy Waters accuses Olam of accounting gaffes and running a high risk of failure, and is adamant that…

Zero tolerance, zero compassion

In this year’s National Day Rally, PM Lee said: There is one particularly difficult area where we need to be big hearted and that is in relations between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans. To summarise a long-winded speech, he told us we can’t afford to be one-eyed dragons, because it reflects badly on us and people will think that Singapore is anti-foreigner and xenophobic. He urged us to feel for other fellow human beings, especially non-Singaporeans who may offend because they do not know what our norms are. He reminded us that it is wrong to slam the shortcoming of others but…