Hold or fold?

A perennial question some Singaporeans have is why HDB owners are allowed to hold on to their HDB flats after upgrading to private properties, but private property owners are not allowed to hold on to their private properties should they buy a HDB flat. Not fair, cries the latter group, while others say the first group shouldn’t even be allowed to do so to begin with. In an interesting reply to The Straits Times Forum a few weeks back, HDB clarified that the rules are actually very consistent. This was their explanation, which I had to reread a few times to…



Our in-house ghost writer

Oh wow, what do you know, this blog turned one this week. So I guess it’s time to reflect and review, no? I do wonder all this time how long I can sustain my interest in keeping this up. So far so good. Maintaining a blog like this takes a higher level of commitment than one would imagine, especially while holding down a very full time day job like I do. I haven’t done too badly, thank you very much, with about 120 posts over the year and never longer than two weeks between posts. Taking out the comic posts…

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…

Job perks include blind support and adulation

SINGAPORE — “Wife of a preacher man” has emerged top in a poll on dream career choices among teenagers and other impressionable young adults. This came after revelations in court of $500,000 paid in bonuses and advances to a pastor’s singer wife from the church building fund. The singer, popularly known as Ho Ho Ho (All The Way To The Bank), and husband Kong Hee Huat Chye, founder of DupliCity Harvest Church (DCHC), are currently on trial for misuse of church funds. Youngsters polled were lured by the promise of huge monetary returns and island resort homes on minimal talent…

"This is how much you are getting off us"

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…

Not all monsters are born equal

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…

On Lee Kuan Yew and what he said

A few loose thoughts on Lee Kuan Yew, who found himself in the spotlight again as National Day came around. Just to be clear, I haven’t read his new book, but have read snippets of it online. 1. First off, I find it odd that Channel NewsAsia/TODAYonline uses the title “former Minister Mentor” to address Mr Lee, while The Straits Times and foreign media use “former Prime Minister”. The latter is more appropriate because it recognises the fact that he was once the leader of the country (not to mention the longest serving). What his last cabinet position was is secondary….

Now, the bad news: BTO prices outpace resale market

Before we start, have you read the good news yet? If not, you might want to check it out first. Here I am going to raise some serious questions on pricing in the current July BTO exercise. For this, I must thank a reader for bringing it to my attention. One very interesting aspect about this BTO exercise is that it includes flats from three previous BTO projects that were launched between 2010 and 2012. These flats on sale currently are 2-room flats that are now open to singles; whether they are leftover flats or had been excluded from the…

New proud owners of a HDB 2-room flat

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….

Yesterday, the UK marked 15 years of its national minimum wage, a policy that has not only won over all doubters across the political spectrum in this country but was also voted by experts as the most successful policy in the last thirty years. From The Financial Times (do check out the Resolution Foundation report as well): Happy birthday, national minimum wage By John McDermott A few months into Tony Blair’s government, The Economist argued that “coming up with a minimum wage that will not seriously harm the economy, and destroy jobs, will require the wisdom of Solomon – or extraordinary…

Kids react to One Singapore

One Singapore, theme song for National Day 2013, has outed the closet music critic in every Singaporean since it was unleashed onto the unsuspecting public (unsuspecting because no one had a clue it could be this bad). The criticisms have been harsh: bad lyrics, kiddish arrangement, idiotic rap sequence. Even Stephen Chow thinks it is bad, though as a foreigner he really shouldn’t be meddling in our affairs. After seeing all these sorts of comments, I just had to check out the video to see what all the fuss was about. My impression? Well, I don’t feel anything particular to…

Civil Service Job Poster

Another week, another public officer getting into trouble with the law. As Jesse Pinkman would ask: What’s the matter with you people, yo? What is disturbing in this CPIB case is that this happened right in the heart of the anti-corruption bureau itself. It’s not just about a staff getting caught for an offence; here the criminal activities were repeated and undetected for four long years, totalling eight separate acts of misappropriation and one of forgery. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me over and over and over again? CPIB head Eric Tan must be feeling pretty daff…