Singapore Day: Let's cut OSU some slack

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…

World War II poster

National Service under the microscope

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…

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

Fair Consideration Framework: Good for now

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…

Job application forms aid in discriminatory hiring

Job application forms aid in discriminatory hiring

There must be quite a few red faces at the government agencies when The Straits Times went to dig out tender advertisements these agencies had put up in recent months. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, a junior college and a primary school were all found to have breached anti-discrimination hiring guidelines by specifying age ceilings in requirements for security guards. Amongst other excuses, both the ministries blamed it on an “oversight” from reusing old contract documents, meaning that it used to be standard practice. So it…

Hollywood-style sham marriages are ok

New law doesn’t help nab sham marriages

In the article “Sham marriages up despite tougher laws”, The Straits Times reported that the number of marriage of convenience cases nabbed last year has shot up. Official figures from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) revealed that there were 54 cases in 2012, a whopping 10 times more than the previous year. Between 2007 and 2011, there were only four or five cases each year. The ST report followed a press release from ICA, cheekily titled Where Is The Love?, that highlighted the case of a 35 year-old Singaporean, Quek, who fixed up a marriage of convenience with a Chinese…

Small shops in tight spaces

Restrict investors, not shoebox shops themselves

I’m beginning to wonder if our National Development Minister is claustrophobic. After intervening in the private housing market in November last year to restrict the number of shoebox apartments allowed in suburban residential projects, Mr Khaw Boon Wan is now targeting “shoebox shops” in malls. We can only conclude that he just doesn’t like small spaces. The minister’s beef with residential shoebox apartments was the increasing trend of Singaporeans buying up these units because normal sized private apartments are priced out of the range they could afford. With prices going north of $1,400 psf even in the Outside Central Region (OCR),…

Would you support a 100% Singaporean campaign?

Would you support a 100% Singaporean campaign?

Foreign workers is such a sensitive issue in Singapore these days that it doesn’t take much to stir up controversy, as Jollibee Singapore unwittingly found itself caught in. Fortunately for the Filipino fast food chain, that hasn’t prevented long queues on its opening day at Lucky Plaza. If you have shopped at British supermarkets often enough, you won’t help but notice that many of the food products here carry proud labels and advertisements proclaiming to be 100% British-made or supporting British farmers. Local shoppers do their part as well by making an effort to buy these British products, even if they…

Still chewing over the population debate

Still chewing over the population debate

I’m guessing Grace Fu hasn’t read the Institute of Policy Studies’ commentary  by the four economists from the Economic Society of Singapore, despite the Today paper finally giving it coverage two weeks after it was first published on 8 February and widely shared on social media. One of the writers, Donald Low of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, had earlier condemned the Population White Paper for its lack of scholarship rigour, adding that, if it were a term paper, he would have absolutely no qualms failing it. Or perhaps the civil servants under Ms Fu are unwilling…

"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…

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…

Keeping up to date on voiddecker.com

Have you been reading this, Minister Tan?

The Singapore government has long taken pride in being firm to stick to what it thinks is right, rather than what’s in favour. Having to admit openly to heeding public opinion makers and the general populace is a hard pill to swallow, especially when the stance it once championed is proven wrong. So when there are calls for policy changes, be it from experts, think tanks, opposition parties or ordinary Singaporeans, the government’s instinctive reaction is to dismiss the calls. Ministers and PAP MPs will caution us with doomsday scenarios. Right on cue, the local press will publish reports quoting…

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops

Pardon our Prime Minister – he was on live TV after all when he muttered those words. I had a hard time deciding whether it was another one of those Marie Antoinette moments that our leaders are prone to lapse into, or if our PM was just being brutally honest (a hard truth as his old man calls it) when he was asked on Singapore’s future population. “Six million or so should not be a problem”, he said. No doubt, you can’t fault his logic. We can build taller flats, reclaim more land and build more train lines. And after…