Tuesday, August 25, 2009

[RECOMMENDED READ] Level the playing field for locals and foreigners in employment?

I would like to recommend this read from The Online Citizen


Its about the inequality between Singaporeans and Non-Singaporean when comes to employment and certain "rights". The implications is that, it would cause business owners to have preference in employing foreigners than Singaporeans.

It also created a question, which is always on my mind... And its NOT "What it meant to be a Singaporean" (as in being proud of being Singaporean)... BUT, "What differentiates us Singaporeans from non-Singaporeans?"

Although, it can also be questioned as "What it meant to be a Singaporean" (but as in, why the fuck Singaporeans arent treated like we from this country).

Seriously, I have no idea whats the diff between PR and Singapore Citizen... NS and Polls? Somemore?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Singaporeans underpaid?

For those whom had followed Majulah! (this blog) closely, you would have noticed that I am very concerned and conscious abt the lack of "development" in the amount of our pay for the past 10 years+...

This issue had become glaring in the latest survey by UBS on wage levels and living cost in major cities across the world.

Read abt it here: http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/news/story/0,4574,346842,00.html?

Singapore is the SECOND MOST EXPENSIVE CITY IN ASIA after Tokyo. But workers in Tokyo are earning MORE THAN TWICE of what we earned in Singapore. And this is happening while Singaporeans are working longer hours (2088 hours per year) than people of Tokyo (1997 hours per year).

Thats is pretty astounding.

So even when Tokyo people are facing the most expensive living cost in Asia, they can easily deal with it because of their pay. But in Singapore, the case is extremely different. While we had to work harder, pay more for our daily expenses or for entertainment; we are actually "enjoying" only 50% of what the Japanese are enjoying.

And no wonder Singapore ranked so low for happiness and people in "The Online Citizen" hates PAP so much... = \

But for those who read: Dun start criticizing. Think of solution. Complaining is like solving an algebra by chewing bubble gum. So dun comment without thinking thru how can we make it better. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

[READ THIS] Who Holds the Sovereign Wealth of this Nation and Why? --- by Reform Party

This is a recommended read by me.
Its an article from Reform Party's website, which I find really good.

source: http://www.thereformparty.net/?p=283

Who Holds the Sovereign Wealth of this Nation and Why?
August 8, 2009 by admin

excerpt from the article:
Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) are not a new idea. According to Wikipedia, the term Sovereign Wealth Fund was first used by Andrew Rozanov in an article entitled, ‘Who holds the wealth of nations?’ in the Central Banking Journal of May 2005. A SWF may be broadly defined as a state-owned investment fund composed of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, property, precious metals or other financial instruments.
Theoretically one can distinguish two types of SWFs. The first, and the oldest form of SWF, is one set up to manage revenues from an exhaustible resource such as oil, or one which derives its assets from government budget surpluses. An example of one based on resources, and arguably the first SWF was the Kuwait Investment Authority, a commodity SWF created in 1953 from oil revenues before Kuwait even gained independence from Great Britain. A more recent example is the Norwegian SWF which was set up primarily to ensure that the wealth represented by Norway’s oil reserves was not squandered on current consumption but turned into financial assets which would benefit future generations.
Temasek could be said to be an example of the first type of SWF. It was set up in 1974 to hold stakes in the various government-controlled companies, such as DBS, SIA and Singapore Technologies, that had previously been held by the Ministry of Finance. The Temasek Holdings website states that “Our investments are funded through dividends we receive from our portfolio companies, our divestment proceeds, commercial borrowings, a maiden Yankee bond issue in 2005 and occasional asset injections from our shareholder, the Minister for Finance (Incorporated).”

continue reading here: http://www.thereformparty.net/?p=283

Monday, August 17, 2009

Singaporeans = Contemporary Coolies? My Take.

The article from SingaporeanSkeptic.blogspot.com highlighted a growing issue in Singapore.

Its the same problem I always highlighted to ppl (not sure if i did that in this blog), that the salary had not really increase much for the past 20 years (since I was 6-7 years old). Maybe at that time the starting salary is $1200. Now? Its isnt very must better, just $1600 to $1800. But then, taxi fare starts at $1.20 and now its already ard $3 the moment you get into the cab. And I havent talked abt bus fare (which is worse)

Expenses literally doubled (other than food...) but salary hadnt. Rents for shops and stalls had raised tremendously, until, what used to be profitable business, now become a struggle to continue - resulting in debts...

Singaporeans as a whole, we are really educated to be workers and employees. We are inculcated the "get a degree and get a high pay job" mentality throughout the past 30-40 years and this itself had even starting to evolve into "get a degree so that you can get a decent job".

Singapore had transformed tremendously since independence, but mentality and culture of Singaporeans had not. Even though the Government's foreign worker policy (from highly trained to construction workers) had made it easier for Government to keep the numbers up and business flowing; they had forgotten to consider what individual Singaporeans going to face in such demographic change in our workers' population.

Top jobs going more to foreigners and bottom jobs given to cheap labours from overseas. Singaporeans are left stucked in the middle. The middle class is historically weak and easily affected by policy change or recession. And this is exactly whats happening now.

My Hypothesis
So now that Singaporeans have gone thru life from the bottom: coolies, construction workers, factory workers.... to the middle class which lasted for the past 20 years: office workers, sales people, etc... PERHAPS, its time for Singaporeans to move up the ladder again. Lets start to be the people at the TOP of the food chain, managing "Middle Class Foreigners" and "Blue collar foreigners"


Its probably untenable for Singaporeans to continue to stay with their worker mentality and continue to subject themselves to availability of jobs and competition with increasingly smart and cheap foreign labour. Its only logical that Singaporeans should start to have more entrepreneurial mindsets and start to transform the demographic from a middle class majority, to a "top heavy one"; one that shows a tremendously high percentage of people are business leaders, entreprenuers, whom their business stretch beyond Singapore and into the regions around Singapore.

When I now use the word "Entreprenuers" , i'm not talking abt those Property Agents and Financial Consultants, nor those small businesses that just scrapping to earn those little money within our borders; I am talking about transforming Singaporeans to become creative and daring to scale their business bigger and bring their business overseas.

The Goal: is to make Singapore a business entreprenuership powerhouse.

Imagine a Singapore, which is already a financial centre and a jewel in South East Asia, that have the highest percentage of people running their own business in the world; many of our local companies stretch their arms into other countries in the region, providing high quality products and services into our neighbouring countries and in turn, bring in more cash back into Singapore.

Think this little Red Dot is becoming so satuated that its had to burst outwards with multiple arms reaching out for more "domination" in the business realm.

Think Japan's economic miracles and dominance. Think Silicon Valley (but instead of just IT stuff, but across ALL industries). Think of our Sovereign Weath Funds (SWF), that stretch aross seas to make their mark. Think Middleeast, where their petrol money is coming from all over the world.

This is the only viable way to go, and it will bring Singapore even more years of economic success and anchor Singapore as an ever more important country among the league of nations.

But I have reiterate, that this can only be achieve if our Government willing to pool resources in helping to train, educate and even fund the Singaporeans to become entreprenuers. It requires massive change in the educational system to help switch our mindset from worker to start-own-business mentality. Singaporeans then should make use of our favourable business environment in Singapore to build their business.

From a nation of workers, to a nation of business leaders. Imagine.

(p.s: might seemed a bit lofty and maybe i didnt organise my writings properly as well. But i do suspect PAP does understand this, and sec sch students are having "education" in entreprenuership based on my understanding... cheers anyway)

Singaporeans = Contemporary Coolies???

This was an article link which was posted on Facebook by Reform Party's General Sec, Kenneth.J. Then after i read it... i have to say, it resonates with every common man and I want to reproduce it here.

source: http://singaporeanskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-this-life-you-want-your-children-to.html

Is this the life you want your children to have?

More than a hundred years ago, some of our ancestors were coolies. These peasants had a hard life working for little pay. At the end of each hard day's work, they would go home to their cramp squalid accommodations to rest and prepare for another day of back-breaking labour. Life was hard but they were powerless to do anything to change. No one helped or protected them. They had no labour union to protect them and they lived in constant fear of losing their only means of survival- their jobs.

Now in the 21st century, this coolie mentality is still prevalent in our society. We wake up every morning from our cramp HDB dwelling so that we could squeeze inside a tight MRT train to get to work. Because of the recession, we no longer work from 9 to 5 but 8 to 7. The hours are longer because of the unfortunate souls who got retrenched. But what can we do? If we complain, we could be the next to lose our jobs. Our unions are ,for all intents and purposes, non-existent. Why should our NTUC chief care? He receives a fat pay-check for being a minister and pleasing the government.

But we do nothing because it is in our cultural legacy to suffer. We only know how to endure suffering and not how to enjoy life. We learn it from our parents and they learnt it from their parents all the way back to the coolies. Nothing has changed except that instead of being ruled by an overseas master, our masters are now fellow Singaporeans who are overseas educated.

Yes, for some of us, our lives are miserable and this has to stop. Do you want your children to inherit this cultural legacy of servitude? Do you want them to break free from this cycle of lower wages and endless skills retraining? Do you want them to not go through what you have gone through.

If you want the best future for them, then educate them. Educate them not for the purpose of serving our PAP masters. Educate them to give your children the resources/skills to leave this Island. Imagine how much happier your son (and his sons) would be if he doesn't have to serve NS. Imagine how happy your daughter would be because she wouldn't need to work in a stressed out environment or live in a cramp HDB apartment.

Educate them so that they can leave. Because if they don't leave, some day they may have to explain to their own children why their manager father had to become a taxi driver.

After all, what is the point of your suffering if they have to experience it themselves when they grow up?

Excerpt from The New Paper. July 22 2009

--- quote ---
THE man had a simple question for his MP: I will be a security guard if I must, he said, but how can I encourage my children to do well in school if I can't find a good job despite my (tertiary) education?It was a statement that shook even a battle-hardened MP like Madam Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC).'When he responded in that manner, I also started thinking,' she said.

Madam Halimah was raising this example with The New Paper last night after a hotly-debated Parliamentary discussion on how to help retrenched Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs).The man, a former manager in his 50s with an engineering diploma, was retrenched late last year. Unable to find a job, he became a taxi driver.

Madam Halimah said she told him to look at the positive side and show his children that despite the setbacks, he is still doing his best.'Look, this is reality. In life, there'll be ups and downs,' she said. 'It is important not to lose hope, to do our best, stay on course, and try to improve ourselves.'
--- quote ---

The Original TNP Article that inspired the above post.

- We focus on those willing to be helped, says Minister
- PMETs aren't simply being choosy, say MPs. This recession has hit them especially hard

By Ng Tze Yong and Ho Lian-Yi
July 22, 2009

THE man had a simple question for his MP:

I will be a security guard if I must, he said, but how can I encourage my children to do well in school if I can't find a good job despite my (tertiary) education?

It was a statement that shook even a battle-hardened MP like Madam Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC).

'When he responded in that manner, I also started thinking,' she said.

Madam Halimah was raising this example with The New Paper last night after a hotly-debated Parliamentary discussion on how to help retrenched Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs).

The man, a former manager in his 50s with an engineering diploma, was retrenched late last year. Unable to find a job, he became a taxi driver.

Madam Halimah said she told him to look at the positive side and show his children that despite the setbacks, he is still doing his best.

'Look, this is reality. In life, there'll be ups and downs,' she said. 'It is important not to lose hope, to do our best, stay on course, and try to improve ourselves.'

Is enough being done for PMETs like him? MP Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC) told Parliament that she had received feedback that PMETs who do not go to job interviews arranged by career centres are given warnings that they will not be considered for future job vacancies.

'I'm wondering how we can guide the career centres to do a better job,' she said.

Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong replied: 'There are a lot of workers we need to help, and we need to be focused on workers who are prepared to be helped.'

He told Parliament that the Government has taken effective measures to reduce unemployment.

Tangible results

In just six months since Spur (Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience) started, more than 19,000 jobseekers have been placed in jobs, he said.

He said the Spur-Jobs scheme, implemented in May, saw 50 companies committed to hiring 1,200local workers in various industries in just one month.

He pointed out that, as of end-May, the Professional Skills Programme (PSP) had about 36,000 PMETs and fresh graduates trained or committed to training.

But the sense on the ground is that this is an especially tough recession for PMETs.

MP Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) noted: 'Whereas in the past, PMETs may be more nimble and adaptable, the same does not hold true this time around.'

He added that nowadays, everything has a shelf life - even a degree.

Madam Ho urged more to be done for PMETs.

For example, she said retrenched PMETs can be teamed up to carry out stock checks and review procedures in companies.

'PMETs have the experience and they can return to the workforce as consultants,' said Madam Ho.

She also feels better training will be useful for staff helping with job-matching at government agencies.

'A bit of psychology training may help them understand how to handle someone who has just lost his or her job,' said Madam Ho.

Asking the right questions

They can also be trained on how to ask the right questions and phrase them the right way, and have the tenacity to follow up on the cases.

'It cannot be just a clerical staff telling people we have a vacancy here and a vacancy there,' she said.

Peter (not his real name), a grassroots leader who works closely with retrenched workers, said that 'people are not being genuinely helped'.

Government agencies like the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) are 'too focused on the numbers, because numbers equal more funding' from Spur, said Peter.

It has resulted in a lot of frustration on the ground, he said.

Instead, government agencies should be working more closely with employers to find out the nature and number of jobs that are available, to make their training more targeted, suggested Peter.

'After all, WDA and e2i have a lot of resources and a wide network of contacts in various industries,' said Peter.

'But they are not listening. Instead, it is always about training, training and training because that's the easier thing to do. What is the point of training thousands of people without knowing where the jobs are?'

Peter added that there are many organisations, such as the self-help groups, that want to help but are unable to 'because all the training is put under one roof, which is e2i.'

'Is this the many helping hands approach we always talk about?' he asked.

I will have my personal follow up post on this issue.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Excellent Article about Why the West hate Singapore.

Source: The Straits Times, Singapore
Source: http://forum.football.co.uk/about156207.html (surprisingly, its from a football forum)

Why they hate Singapore
Western detractors are getting the jitters as others copy our model

SINGAPORE is small enough to be a suburb in Beijing, but it has something in common with the mammoth People's Republic. The little red dot and Red China are both countries the West loves to hate.
There are those who wish bad things to happen to the Beijing Olympics. Likewise, there are those who have had it in for the Lion City for years.

What's eating them? The easy answer is that both China and Singapore are authoritarian states. The freedoms taken for granted in the West - freedom of speech and assembly - come with more caveats in these two places.

But things are not so simple. There are plenty of authoritarian states around, but most do not attract as much attention as Singapore and China.

The real sin: Singapore and China are examples of countries which are taking a different route to development, and look to be succeeding.

Success grates, especially when it cocks a snook at much-cherished liberal values.

As Madam Yeong Yoon Ying, press secretary to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, said last month: 'Singapore is an example to other countries of how the free market plus the rule of law, and stable macro-economic policies, can lead to progress and success, but without Western-style 'liberal' democracy.'

Don't believe her words? Read these lines from British journalist John Kampfner, writing in The Guardian last month, lamenting the spread of what he calls the Singapore model.

'Why is it that a growing number of highly-educated and well-travelled people are willing to hand over several of their freedoms in return for prosperity or security? This question has been exercising me for months as I work on a book about what I call the 'pact'.

'The model for this is Singapore, where repression is highly selective. It is confined to those who take a conscious decision openly to challenge the authorities. If you do not, you enjoy freedom to travel, to live more or less as you wish, and - perhaps most important - to make money. Under Lee Kuan Yew, this city-state built on a swamp has flourished economically.

'I was born in Singapore and have over the years been fascinated by my Chinese Singaporean friends. Doctors, financiers and lawyers, they have studied in London, Oxford, Harvard and Sydney. They have travelled across all continents; they are well-versed in international politics, but are perfectly content with the situation back home. I used to reassure myself with the old certainty that this model was not applicable to larger, more diverse states. I now believe this to be incorrect.

'Provincial governments in China send their brightest officials to Singapore to learn the secrets of its 'success'. For Russian politicians it too provides a useful model. These countries, and others in Asia and the Middle East are proving that the free market does not require a free society in which to thrive, and that in any battle between politics and economics, it is the latter that will win out.'

Mr Kampfner seems in a genuine intellectual funk. He cannot quite understand why otherwise normal, intelligent Singaporeans would trade certain freedoms for economic progress, and accept the Singapore political system for what it is.

But perhaps he has got the wrong end of the stick. The problem lies not in the Singaporeans, but in his own assumptions. Namely: If you speak English, if you are well-educated and well-travelled, you must also believe in Western-style democracy. They are a package.

I was on the receiving end of similar assumptions when I was in the United States in 1991-1992. When Americans asked me, 'Why is your English so good?', often it was not out of admiration but bewilderment. Their next question revealed all: 'Why then do you (i.e. your Government) ban chewing gum?'

Another telling indicator of Western assumptions about Singapore comes from a remark by Singapore's Ambassador to Washington, Professor Chan Heng Chee, who went to the US at the tail end of the Michael Fay saga.

One year into her posting there, in 1997, she arranged for a retrospective of the late choreographer Goh Choo San's works. Her Washington audience was awed.

'People suddenly remembered Choo San was a Singaporean. They may have known about Goh Choo San, but to connect him with Singapore was not so obvious for them,' she said.

Sub-text: World-class choreography does not fit their image of a country with corporal punishment.

So the real difficulty for the West is this: We are so like them, and yet so not like them. We speak, dress, do business and do up our homes very much the same way as them. Yet when it comes to political values, we settle - apparently - for much less.

One observer draws an analogy with Pavlovian behavioural conditioning. So conditioned have Westerners become to associating cosmopolitan progress with certain political parameters, they do not know how to react when they encounter a creature - Singapore - that has one but not the other.

So they chide and berate us, as if we have betrayed a sacred covenant.

Adding to the iniquity is the fact that countries - rich and powerful ones too, like Russia and the Gulf states - are looking to the Singaporean way of doing things to pick up a tip or two.

I can imagine the shudders of Singapore's Western detractors should they read about a suggestion made by Mr Kenichi Ohmae this week.

In an interview with Business Times, the Japanese management consultant who first became famous as author of The Borderless World, said Singapore should 'replicate' itself in other parts of the world.

What he meant was that Singapore should use its IQ, and IT prowess, to help organise effective economies in other regions, as its own had succeeded so well.

To be sure, his reasoning was economic, not political. But for those who hate Singapore, a Pax Singaporeana would be something to work against and head off.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Singapore!

Happy Birthday Singapore!!!

As Singapore celebrates the 44th National Day and the parade in full swing just not long ago; the celebrations arent just not limited to the physical world at Marina Bay, in front of our TV and in our hearts: In the internet, Singapore's Birthday had made an impact on the social networking websites as well!

In Twitter, the words "Singapore" and "NDP" made it into the TOP 10 threading topics at the very moment NDP just ended. To let you understand the extent of how significant this is: the top 10 treading topics is garnered from the ALL AROUND THE WORLD, the entire world' tweeting trend at the very moment. And Singapore made their mark.

A country of 5 million plus, just a speck on the globe, we got 2 words making the treading topic. Thats just how much we are celebrating now! =D

And on Facebook, I'm so proud to see that my fellow Singaporean friends are proud of their country and celebrating with pride. I'm touched.

Especially coupled with the fact that I had just watched the best National Day Parade ever... Every single part is meaningful and well executed (except that poor flutist whom's mike is not on...) I love especially the SOKA's part, where the Red Ball of Light represents the Little Red Dot Singapore is, in which, every Singaporean will always have that little red dot in them where ever they go to in the world. There will always be a part of Singapore in them...

Happy Birthday Singapore. I love you and I am proud to be a Singaporean.