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

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?…

"This is how much you are getting off us"

Why must MediShield break even?

In the end, when all the tears have dried and euphoria has died down, you start to get this niggling feeling that something doesn’t feel quite right. You toss and turn through Sunday night, wondering if the deal you’ve just been sold may not be such a great deal after all. Then, come Monday morning, you begin feeling a little silly to have gotten so excited in the first place. On hindsight now, after much careful thought, you put it down to that creepy smile and repeat assurance to not worry that threw you off-guard. In the National Day Rally…

Past and present pride and joy

The PM’s midnight musings

So now we know what keeps PM Lee up at night is not so much Ho Ching’s snoring but midnight musings over how to retain the “specialness” of Singapore. This so that outsiders can look at us and say: “Wow, let’s go and see what’s happening there.” Appearance matters, after all, when keeping up with the Jones of the world. PM Lee also said that if he could persuade another ten billionaires to Singapore, he would have no qualms doing so even if it results in higher income inequality, “because they will bring business, they will bring opportunities, they will…

fill in the blanks

A gangster asking for protection money

There was such a huge outcry when the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced the licensing regulations for news websites that you would think they are shutting down the Internet entirely. But everyone is justifiably worried. The new rules are not only broad-based, they are also vague, arbitrary and potentially limitless. Why 50,000 unique IPs? Why $50,000? Why these ten websites but not others? It looks like a bunch of civil servants got together in a meeting room and pluck some numbers out of thin air. They might as well charge $49,999 and tell us it’s a half-price early bird discount….

The jestor

A one-of-a-kind union that rejects minimum wage

Every good party needs a clown to provide the laughs, and it was Zorro Lim (not his real name) on the PAP roster yesterday. At the Budget debate, NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say rejected renewed calls by several MPs, including Inderjit Singh and NMP Lawrence Lien, for a minimum wage system. Instead of speaking up for the workers that he is supposed to represent, he is strangely the one voicing the objection, even if we know all along that the government is never keen on the idea. This must be an absolute one of a kind. Nowhere in the world will…

Hands off my suitcase full of goodies

Budget 2013 observations

Here are a few thoughts on Budget 2013: The most eye-catching policy to come out of this Budget is the Wage Credit Scheme, under which the government will co-fund 40 per cent of wage increases for Singaporean workers earning up to a gross monthly wage of S$4,000. This is a further departure from the government’s previous insistence that wage increases must follow productivity improvement. Now, despite a reported productivity drop of 2.6% in 2012, it is pushing ahead for firms to pay their local workers better. This shows a gradual recognition (or resignation, depending on how you look at it)…

Hail the victor

Punggol East sends signal of zero tolerance to PAP in by-election

Huat ah! Congratulations to Lee Li Lian and what a victory this is for the Workers’ Party in the Punggol East by-election. Chua Mui Hoong calls this a tipping point in the political landscape and a harbinger of more to come, but some may argue that the tipping point is already reached at General Election 2011 with WP’s victory in Aljunied GRC. But she is right that Punggol East has a demographic profile of the future, and the ruling People’s Action Party relies heavily on support from the baby boomer generation that can only diminish in coming years. Indeed, this by-election result is one…

Ingredients to more babies

I got you babe, in our marriage & parenthood package

The recent flurry of announcements from the government, ranging from property stability policies and new MRT lines to birth rate boosting measures, shows why we care so much about elections, even if it’s in a constituency with only 31,649 voters. When PAP starts dishing out carrots on a national scale, despite insisting that local issues are what concern Punggol East voters, it is every Singaporean who stands to benefit. On the whole, the freshly announced marriage and parenthood package is a good move on a wide-ranging scale. It won’t do miracles to our abysmal birth rate, but is a step…

Low budget production

Statement on AIM (Ho Pin gag’em style)

The most eagerly anticipated PAP statement of the year—okay we are just two days into it—is finally out. Like a true star worthy of a Psy tribute band, Dr Teo Ho Pin has kept us waiting, clamouring, salivating over the festive holiday weekend at what juicy details he has to offer on the AIM transaction. Without going into a hair-splitting operative, I don’t find anything glaringly dubious in the numbers presented in the statement; perhaps more astute readers will. A missing piece of the puzzle was what AIM gets paid after the initial one year period, and the answer is…

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…

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)…