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?…

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…

All quiet on the Changi eastern front

All quiet on the Changi eastern front

When plans for the Cross Island Line were announced earlier this year, environmentalists — being environmentalists — went up in arms over a track alignment that looks like it will cut through under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The Nature Society was quick to register its concerns, and a few months later put out a paper to propose an alternative route that cuts around the reserve, not through it. There was also a protest at Hong Lim Park where an “eco-artist” and her supporters warned of the environmental impact. And all this before the Land Transport Authority has even decided…

Not all monsters are born equal

Everybody’s a little bit elitist

When society’s brightest and most able think that they made good because they are inherently superior and entitled to their success; when they do not credit their good fortune also to birth and circumstance; when economic inequality gives rise to social immobility and a growing social distance between the winners of meritocracy and the masses; and when the winners seek to cement their membership of a social class that is distinct from, exclusive, and not representative of Singapore society — that is elitism. Well said, Mr Goh Chok Tong, in this recent speech to alumni of Raffles Institution. Some argue…

New proud owners of a HDB 2-room flat

HDB BTO for singles: First, the good news

It is becoming customary for me to write about HDB balloting exercises, having previously commented on the Sale of Balance (SBF) exercises for 2-room flats last year, and the recent May BTO exercise. While I do not intend this to become a trend, I do note that my posts on HDB flats tend to attract the highest sustained traffic even long after I’ve written them, showing how much housing matters to Singaporeans compared to issues like political bickering we have seen recently. So, on to the current July BTO exercise, and let’s start with the good news in this post….

Keep the rallies going, and the quality too

Keep the rallies going, and the quality too

By Lorong Cat The period of 12 months from when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008 to its anniversary in 2009 was a tumultuous one. This period was marked by an unprecedented wave of financial meltdown with some of the biggest banks in the UK getting nationalised with taxpayers’ money and also coincided with an Israeli incursion into the Gaza strip. Both of these developments spawned weekly large scale demonstrations in central London. I was new to London and my first “participation” in a major demonstration was during the 2009 G20 summit in London where world leaders representing 20 major…

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)…

Pawn Shop

Pawn alley at Clementi Central

I am back in London after spending the last two and a half weeks in Singapore. It’s been pretty hectic catching up with friends and families and sorting out other matters in the short time I had, which explains the lack of postings here! During my time back, I was at Clementi Central on an almost daily basis, either to eat at the hawker centre there, to pick up some necessities from the odds-and-ends shops, or simply to visit the local Singapore Pools outlet for my ticket to eternal financial well-being and material happiness via the $10 Million Hong Bao…

Ten Sticks and One Rice

Ten Sticks and One Rice – A Singaporean graphic novel

We had a lot of talk last week in parliament on what makes a true Singaporean core. Well, nothing beats a picture that paints a thousand words, and all the better when you have an entire book of them and a good story that goes along with it. I would like to recommend this local Singaporean-written, drawn and published graphic novel Ten Sticks and One Rice, which tells the story of a man’s journey from a fast growing local society in the 1970s through to present day Singapore. Ten Sticks and One Rice is the life account of a man…

Hokkien Me

The last of the Tans, Ongs and Lims

I am in Singapore these two weeks to spend Chinese New Year with our families and to meet up with friends, and right now I’m writing this at 5 am in the morning. I’ve been here a few days already and I’m still jet lagged. It has never been this bad before on my return trips from the UK — so I must put this down to age! Over dinner with my family the other day, I had a minor shock when my brother told us that his baby son is registered with a Hanyu Pinyin surname. There is no trace at all on his record of…

You better work (to support our old)

How to reduce the need for 6.9 million population

Besides encouraging Singaporeans to have more babies, we should also look into ways to cope with a low old-age support ratio. Here are some suggestions to increase the workforce from within the core group of citizens and lessen our dependency on foreign care workers. Some of these ideas are not new and have been discussed by others. Reducing National Service length — Imagine if NS is cut by one year, which would translate into a whole cohort of male Singaporeans entering the workforce earlier by a year. Promoting apprenticeships in place of university studies — An university education is important…