Sunday, 30 September 2012
Because it is too expensive, my son.
How come my friends father all drive?
Why do must we take MRT and bus?
Because daddy does not earn not enough.
Oh daddy, where are we going this holiday.
Son, we are going to Lego Land in Malaysia.
Malaysia again? I want to go to Europe and America.
How come my friends get to go so faraway?
Why is it always Genting and that lagoon in Sunway.
Oh daddy, why don't you make more money,
So we can stay condo and eat sushi.
I'm tired of hawker center and kway teow mee.
I want better, daddy please give to me.
Oh daddy, you look so tired and drained,
Did your FT boss scold you again?
Oh daddy, please up your productivity.
Try to get promoted and earn more money.
How come other people's dad so capable,
Drive BMW and live in private condo.
Their children all get private tuition,
While I struggle through my education.
On their body are branded creations/
Why must I wear imitation?
Cheap pasar malam clothing,
I think is skin irritating.
Oh daddy, you quarrel with mom today,
You gambled all housekeeping money away?
4D every week you must play?
Why don't you work harder to earn more pay?
Why do I have a father with no degree,
Look down upon by our capitalistic society.
Every month struggle to make ends meet,
So many OTs and no-off weeks.
Still, the cost of living rise faster than he can earn,
Numerous new things he has struggle to learn.
Deep inside I know he tries his best,
He struggle so hard and never rest.
Late night shifts for a few dollars more,
For those new pair of shoes I wore.
I know no matter how hard he cannot catch up,
They overrun him with cheap foreign imports.
Younger workers with whom he must compete,
Bullied at work he dare not speak/
Oh daddy, you look so worried today,
You deep wrinkles are a giveaway.
Oh daddy, what is on your mind?
Your foreign boss again unkind?
Did they humiliate you at workplace,
Say you're too slow too old nowadays?
Oh daddy, I'm okay to take bus and MRT
I don't mind living in H-D-B,
I don't want any holiday to Europe,
No need branded shoes and clothes.
I know whatever it is you still love me,
That's enough for me to be happy.
I just want again to see your smile,
For me you went the extra mile.
A working class father nothing is easy,
Every dollar you sweated for the family.
Others can look down on our poverty,
But we will stand up proudly,
For you are the ones that work the hardest,
They rob when they pay you the lowest.
But every working class father is truly
The backbone of our economy.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Whatever you do with your life,
Don't marry a pretty wife.
Men see her with lustful glee.
You will suffer lots of insecurity.
You small salary and Nissan,
Cannot satisfy her material wants.
Men at the top will want her,
Using their money and power.
Late nights, mysterious calls, SMSes,
They woo her with sweet promises.
You'll soon be neglected like an old toy,
Left out cold useless working class boy.
She asks why I ever marry such a loser,
A lowly slowly promoted average worker.
If you ever want a happy life,
Make an ugly woman your wife.
She will make your meals delicious,
Clean your clothes and do the dishes.
You want a woman who is delighted,
To be with a husband that is dedicated.
Happy you support the family,
To take bus and live in H-D-B.
No worries when she's home alone.
No wierd strangers call her phone.
The kids - can be sure are your children,
Not someone elses production.
So friends this is my advice,
Want to get married think twice.
Look at her face carefully,
Make sure body not too sexy.
Remember when make love at night,
You can turn off all the lights.
In dark doesn't matter how she looks,
So long as she can cook.
Feel so sorry for Mr. Sue,
Marriage too late for rescue.
Had he married a plain Jane,
Won't suffer so much pain.
Please remember his tregedy,
Wear Green hat for all to see.
Whole country knows his wife,
How can he carry on with life.
My advice to Mr. Sue today
Cut your losses and look away.
This type of woman just forget it.
She can lie and always cheat.
As your life falls apart,
Remember this is a new start.
Next time avoid all the misery,
Don't marry a woman so sexy.
Thursday, 27 September 2012
SINGAPORE - The woman at the centre of former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Director Ng Boon Gay's high profile corruption case was grilled on Thursday morning on whether she had an intimate relationship with Ng.
Ms Cecilia Sue, 36, was asked by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, Ng's lawyer, why she said she had sexual intercourse with Ng in her first statement to the Corrupt Practices Investiagtion Bureau (CPIB) in December last year.
Ms Sue replied she had done so in order "not to implicate anyone", and as she was frightened. The defence lawyer, however, probed the former Oracle sales manager on how she could be so detailed about the incident two years earlier.
The statement, paragraphs of which were submitted to the court by the defence,described an undressed Ng pushing aside Ms Sue's panties for sexual intercourse, followed by oral sex in an apartment at Great World City in June 2009.
It is also inconsistent, Mr Tan said, that she subsequently altered a sentence in the statement to read: "I had a (more) liking for Boon Gay", after the incident.
Disclaiming the factual veracity of the statement, and breaking down once during the intense cross-examination, Ms Sue said: "What I say today is the truth. Nothing but the truth."
Earlier in the morning, Mr Tan read out text messages Ms Sue had sent to Ng, 46, which suggested the two had an intimate relationship.
The first message read out in court was "Do you DIY?". Another message on July 2 last year read: "I could have three hours with you. We had fun". Yet another, later that same day said: "She's home?".
Among other messages Mr Tan read to the court: "M U", "you ignore me how how how"and in response to a text message that was not replied to: "where's family day?"
Ng is facing four charges of corruption for obtaining oral sex from Ms Sue in return for allegedly favouring tenders from the companies she worked for.
The Prosecution's case is that Ms Sue was pressured into performing fellatio because she was concerned about the contracts, and that she would jeopardise the commercial relationship she had built with the CNB.
The defence's case is that Ng had an affair with Ms Sue between 2009 and last year, but personal indiscretions aside, was not corrupt.
If convicted, Ng could be jailed up to five years and fined S$100,000 for each charge.
The trial has been adjourned and hearing will resume Friday morning.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
2. Lim Hang Kiang say you want 1% growth or 3%...if there is no large influx growth will slow.
3. Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin warned that this sentiment (to think we can live with slower growth and lower influx) pre-supposes Singapore has arrived and that survival is not an issue.
What is Tan Chuan-Jin trying to say? Without foreigners to ramp up growth, Singapore cannot survive? Lets get it straight many Singaporeans are HARDLY surviving today under PAP policies fearing job loss to foreigners, low pay and rising cost of living.
We must look at things in totality and good back to basics. To import foreigners to survive is self contradictory...we are not surviving but on living on borrowed time, at some point as the numbers of foreigners grown, the concept of Singapore the nation becomes meaningless. Economies can grow or shrink ...nations can still survive, but you destroy a nations identity, it is gone forever. Our leaders don't understand this...that makes me worry for my country.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Yes, Singapore is an ungrateful society.. .this ungratefulness polarises our society. ..it is disgusting for ordinary people to have to see all this ungratefulness among us starting with the men on top. It is shameful to see old and aged workers who contributed so much to our economy still working well beyond retirement age ...it is highly ungrateful for us to allow this.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
As I make my way to the void deck, I see a large group of Filipinos and Indians gathered there.....oh where have all my Malay neighbours gone? They used to go down with their guitars to sing a tune or two. They used to play soccer with me at the open field - oh how I miss those days I played soccer on that field with my Malay, Indian and Eurasian friends. Now it is a picnic ground for Bangladeshi workers. Not that I have anything against them but how things have changed ...really wonder where all the Singaporean children have gone, nobody seems to play soccer anymore there.
Dropping by at the coffeeshop, where I have been going to since I was 3 years old. The old man selling mee pok is still there so is the aunty selling pork porridge. But the rest of the stalls are now run by people from China. I can still manage with the heavy accented Chinese but really wonder where all of the old Singaporean and Malaysians coffeeshop aunties = where have they gone? Occasionally, I see my friend Ah Teck coming round to sell tissue paper - he has been jobless for a long time because he has little qualifications and some problem with his leg. The world seems to have left people like him behind.
The coffee shop is an interesting place. A mini-institution in the neighborhood. Where old men past their prime gather to drink beer to revive their egos....I have a theory they do so because their old body and minds are fading away, the alcohol makes them feel liberated and these old men start talking about their old glory days or scold the PAP govt.....alcohol, the antidote for repressed political sentiment.
Not too far from the coffeeshop is my secondary school. You know there are 10 bands for secondary schools and there are schools so lowly ranked they are unbanded. Yes, this is one of the schools for "the others" where you are more likely to end up in a gang than go to university. Putting weak students in an bad environment that make them weaker academically is our govt's idea of inclusiveness. Yeah, when all the ministers sit a table, they will talk about which batch of RI, ACS or RGS they come from. We wedge our society apart - the best gets the best, the worse gets the worse...producing humans of extremely separate polarity. Make the strong stronger, make the weak weaker.
The school is not our ticket out of poverty....but the Singapore Pools outlet near by you see the long queues on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The masses buy their pieces of hope and show some optimism. Just get those 4 digits right and fortune comes your way. For the poor, it sounds like a viable plan at least there is hope....you can never build a fortune on a slave salary of $1000 ...at least the Singapore Pools outlet gives you some hope.
As I walk around my neighborhood, I always have to remember to look up once in a while in case there are people who want to end their misery prematurely - you don't want them to take you along with them when they fall on you. See those police tents popping up more and more often around my area.
Saturday, 15 September 2012
The myth that drove PAP govt to import more and more foreigners has been shattered by Sakae Sushi. At the end, in trying to hoodwink one ivory tower minister and a few PAP MPs, Sakae has unveiled what has driven PAP policy are wrongful myths fed to PAP govt that Singaporeans are fussy choosy workers who will turn down decent good paying jobs. The PAP govt instead of listening to the people they are suppose to represent believed everything that business bosses told them. The end result is the opening of floodgates for foreigners driving down the wages of poorer Singaporeans.
What Sakae reveal is they basically want cheap labor doing 12 hour a day work 6 days a week. As long as Singaporeans hesitate to take such jobs, employers will scream FUSSY. These jobs can be redesigned, say into 2 shifts, so that older Singaporean workers can take it up. The govt wants Singaporeans to work until 65 or 70...then foul up the quality of jobs available by allowing the import of cheap 3rd world labor. In the end Singaporeans will be drag down by what these foreigners are willing to take because they are from undeveloped 3rd world countries with labor exploitation. How can the lives of Singaporeans improve if 3rd world labor is imported to compete side-by-side with them? It will drive them downwards....spiral them downwards.
Now Singapore's wage structure has become a 3rd world wage structure. Why a country develop until first world status but keeps a 3rd world wage structure? It means that progress only benefit a small number of people, prosperity is not shared by concentrated at the top and among the elites. This means our society has become very unequal in fact the most unequal country among developed nations.
Now this wage structure is weaved into our economy and become permanent and entrenched. Until now we still hear PAP persuading us to welcome more foreigners. Does the PAP not care about ordinary Singaporeans anymore who are suffering from the impact of their policy?
The PAP tactic now is to call Singaporeans who are fearful of their bad policy XENOPHOBIC and ANTI-FOREIGNERS. Such political tactics will polarise our society and widen the divide. If they keep playing such tactics, how can we trust them to do what is right for Singaporeans and create a better future for all? We must move away from the politics of labeling and antagonism to craft a more constructive narrative...let the voice of reason and truth be heard. PAP should drop its negative tactics and listen to the ground truth.
Monday, 10 September 2012
Now Sim Ann wrote in her facebook:
Friend : Yeah, start with slaying the "cow-peh" and "cow-bu"
This is the latest of a list of insinuations by the PAP MPs that Singaporeans complaining people. This is very insulting. So that is how they will treat what Singaporeans say as complaints. When they are listening to us in a conversation - if we point out something is wrong, we cow-peh, cow-bu.
The PAP (more accurately through SMRT) ran a transport system that broke down. On better days, they transport Singaporeans in crowded buses and trains like cattle. When you speak up about this, they say why you complain, why so negative...FT never complain, why you complain.
In a conversation, we are not going to talk about issues as equals. The PAP that brushed off our concerns will continue to brush off your concerns. Electricity tariffs too high? Got GST voucher and it is based on oil price...why you complain? They never think that electricity has more than double (or tripled?) but that person still make the same pay or lower since 10 years ago.
This whole thing is NOT a CONVERSATION. It is the PAP getting the people to accept decisions they will make because they face strong opposition to what they do from the ground...and they start by arrogantly pointing what they view as negative traits in Singaporeans. So the PAP very good?
Singaporeans suffered from very bad policies in the last 10 years, housing price shoot up, car prices shoot up, foreigners competing for our jobs, structural unemployment. Many PAP schemes as CPF which is for retirement does not ensure most people can retire. More people than before are falling into the poverty trap due to extremely low wages at the bottom 30%. Yet ministers and MPs sit up there collecting the highest pay in the world want to lecture us to be better people.
Sometimes people of other countries call us "sheep" because we are so obedient to the govt. The PAP say Singaporeans like this and like that. ...but the truth is Singaporeans suffered under their bad policies - like building casinos that destroyed many families. When we try to converse with them, they now say we "cow-peh, cow-bu". Their arrogance is sickening. We give them power and they use the power like this.
That is why they say CONVERSATION. Immediately, people shut-up...they can go talk to their own supporters and right wingers who will sing praise about the PAP system. Singaporeans who oppose the govt policies know they have to elect opposition into parliament to be treated seriously. The minute you give absolute power to PAP, they treat you like sheep, you have no say.
There is no more respect for the Singaporean these days on issues that matter to them.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
Just after my PSLE exam, I didn't have much to do so I decided to spend my time fishing and Alan was my fishing partner. Our favourite place to fish was the East Coast Jetty. Both of us would go to the jetty with our fishing rods, bait, snacks and plenty of coffee. We would start in the evening and depending on the weather we would stay overnight if it didn't rain. We would talk about everything under the Sun, our school teachers, family, hopes, dreams, aspirations. Every night we would walk along the jetty to see what others had caught, When it got dark, we would lie on our backs to watch the stars...talk about the future. One night we were discussing what we wanted to be when we grew up - Alan said he wanted to be a fireman because he wanted to save people, I told him I wanted to go to university to be a well educated person...didn't matter if I could get a job or make lots of money, what I wanted was education not wealth.
We were both poor but Alan had is far worse than myself. His mom died when he was just 8 months old of cancer. He was an only child but his mechanic father fell in to a destructive spiral of drinking and gambling ...didn't care for him. When his was 5, his father lost his home due to gambling debts and both of them had to move to his grandma's home. It wasn't long before the loan sharks appeared and quarrels between his grandma and dad would flare up. His dad eventually just walked out on him and his grandma. His grandma was 65 years old and operated a hawker stall selling wanton noodles. His ah ma took care of him.
Shortly after our PSLE we drifted apart and did not meet each other until almost 20 years later. When I saw Alan again, he still had his boyish looks and unmistakable optimistic smile on his face. He said I looked almost the same as I did 20 years ago. It was as if we had never been apart. So there at the East Coast Jetty, the 2 boys, now adults talked their own life journeys after their primary schools (a short account my own story posted below). While my own story is unspectacular bad typical of the 70% of non-graduates Singaporeans in a cohort who have to struggle with low paying jobs, rising costs and foreign influx, Alan's life has been a drama that even exceeded what movie script writers can imagine.
After his PSLE, he was posted to a really bad secondary school where students were completely not interested in their studies. There was gang activity in the school and if you were not in one, the bullies would come after you. In secondary one, instead of learning geography, history, maths, literature...he learnt how to gamble, how to play truant, how to sniff glue. In secondary school, something spiralled his life down to the doldrums - heroin. He was expelled in Secondary 3 for beating up another student and extorting money. Out of school, with a heroin habit to feed, he was easily recruited by syndicates and gangs. He had tattooed his whole body due to gang activities. He would commit petty crimes, even steal from his own ah ma to feed his habit. In the next decade, his half life was spent either in drug rehab or Changi Prison. His beloved "ah ma" now in her seventies had to run the hawker stall herself would visit him in prison. She would tell him, "I cannot even die in peace, knowing you're in this state".
Each time Alan was sent to jail, he would feel the regret for his actions and promised himself to reform. But everytime, he was released from jail, trouble would come and find him. Sadness, disappointment and unhappiness would lure him back to heroin. When he use it, he could at least feel some temporary "happiness" and kind of release but when the "high" ends, he would be back in his real depressing world. He once took a job as a helper at a restaurant. The boss sack him the next day after he fould out that he had been to jail. He wanted to kill himself but he had one person in the world that still loved him, his ah ma, He cuoldn't bear the thought breaking heart and destroying her by killing himself.
In 2003, he was caught for stealing. The judge looking at his past criminal record as a repeat offended said that he was "hardcore" criminal and sentenced him to 3 strokes of cane and 3 years in jail, In Singapore, we still believe we can "punish people to goodness". In a strange twisted way, Alan turned around after his caning.
During his caning, Alan was stripped naked to exposed his buttocks and had to bend over. The rattan cane is dipped overnight in a liquid to make flexible so getting caned is like getting hit by whip. The skin would split open with each stroke. After his caning Alan was put in a room to recuperate. He was in physical pain but a hardened criminal like him pain was not a new experience - he was one slashed across the chest by a parang. You can still see the stitches running across his chest like a railway track. Feeling bored in the recuperation room, he knocked on the door asking the warden for a book to read. The warden replied, "All the comics are taken, only got one Chinese story book left".
The warden threw the book through opening at the door. Alan caught the book before it fell to the ground and flipped opened to this passage:
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
and save them from death. (Proverbs 23)
The warden had unknowingly given the Chinese Bible and by sheer coincidence, the Bible had opened to this particular passage which spoke about saving a person's life by caning. Those strokes of cane was still fresh and painful on his buttocks so it seemed like the passage was talking to him directly. Alone in his room, he suddenly saw his entire life with a clarity he never did in the past. The last decade was a waste - he was the waste. wasted his life, disappointed his "ah ma" who laboured at an old age to raise him. There and then he decided to change.
5 days after his caning, his "ah ma" came to visit him. Every visit she had to the bus all the way from Jurong to Changi and then walk from the bus stop all the way to visitors center. When he saw her granny he said "I'm going to CHANGE". His granny replied wryly, "Yeah, change what huh? I'm already 75 years old. One more time you go to jail, I'll be dead before you get out". His ah ma then said, "You go and get your O levels certificate and prove to me! Don't just talk about change...". Alan was thinking to himself, people at his age in Singapore already get PhD or masters degree or MBA. For him to study to get O levels is like a joke right - in Singapore society, what is an O level cert these days - qualifications inflation means take a rock anyhow throw also hit a graduate. Somehow his old ah ma thought his getting a O level is a big deal....if it was a big deal for her, he might as well spend his time in prison reading O level textbooks...what else is there to do in prison anyway.He applied to join a programme to resume his studies in prison. He was quite enthusiastic about it. When ever he could, he would read the books.He became known as "super-on" by his fellow inmates. The programme in prison was quite good with volunteers coming in to teach those who wanted to reform.
One year before his 3 year term was up, he managed to clear his O levels exam. He show his "ah ma" his O level result slip as a birthday present for her. It was the happiest day of his unhappy life. Alan said that getting his O Level his was prouder and happier than other people getting degrees.
A few months before he was released, he spoke to a volunteer at the prison school about his worries getting a job given his criminal record. The volunteer, a kind soul, looked around and found him a part time job at a church near Paya Lebar. Although it was far from his home, he was more than happy to take it up. His job was to prepare the AV (Audio Visual) equipment for church service and maintain the equipment - basically make sure everything was working. Alan said he felt somewhat uneasy walking around in the church. Imagine you go to church and see someone with tattoos all over his body waking around - it was a bit awkward among the clean cut church going crowd. But the pastors knew his background when they hired him. They were the nicest, warmest and most considerate bunch of people, he had ever met in his life. Going out of the way to make sure he was "okay", when he made mistakes, they were more worried about what it would do to this confidence than anything else. Over the next few months at the church, he started to bond quite well with the pastors and church elders.
One day after work, one of the pastors invited him for coffee at a nearby McCafe. The pastor asked him how he was coping with work and family. Alan said he was doing okay at work and liked the environment. He hoped to make enough to support his granny who was still working at the hawker center. The pastor promised to look at how to increase his responsibility so that he could work full time instead of part time at the church. After that they chatted and joked about various things. Then the pastor jokingly asked, "So how, do you have a girlfriend?".
Alan replied that only girls that tried to contact him were from his gang days, those bad girls would get him into trouble faster than anything. Alan then lamented that with his poor education background, tattoos all over his body, criminal records...in addition to that, he was poor as a church mouse all he had was a few hundred in the bank - no car, no house, no credit card. "Where got any good girl what a girl like that...if I were a girl I also don't want someone like myself!!!", he laughed. The pastor put his hand on Alan shoulder, looking serious he said, "Alan, if you follow Jesus, girls will follow you". They looked each other in the eyes for a while and then both burst out in spontaneous laughter - pastor also can have a sense of humour.
He had been working at the church for about 6 months when Christmas came around. There was much to do around the church and he was tasked to help a particular cell group in the church with the children's Christmas party. There were so many things to do decorations, preparing the games, prizes and who will be Santa? The cell group leader was a demure young secondary school teacher called Cindy who was quite active in church. Because of the children's Christmas party he had to meed Cindy often work out the details and to buy all the stuff for the Christmas party. One day they met up to buy a few of the prizes for the games for the childrens' party. After they were done it was lunch time so Alan and Cindy went to a nearby food court to have lunch. After eating, Cindy said to Alan, "There is something I really want to ask you". Alan said, "Go ahead". .....
"Why is it, outside the church when you meet me, you always wear long sleeve shirts?", asked Cindy.
Alan told Cindy that he wore long sleeve shirts to cover up his tattoos because he thought Cindy would be uncomfortable to be seen with someone with tattoos given she worked as a teacher. What would students think if they saw their teacher with someone with tattoos all over? Cindy said to him that she didn't care about people who would judge people by their exterior and as a teacher she taught her students not to be prejudiced. "Next time you go out with me, just wear what you like...", Cindy said.
The phrase "next time you go out with me" circulated in Alan's mind in the next few days. He had been involved in gang fights but for him to ask a school teacher out actually took more courage. If she had said no it would be disappointing but if she said 'yes', he couldn't be sure she didn't feel too sorry for him to say 'no'. There was this mental gridlock he couldn't resolved. But there was much to do during Christmas around the church so he was able to keep his mind of these issues of the heart.
The children's Christmas party was a great success. Alan had a great time with the kids. He performed quite a few magic tricks he learnt while in jail from other inmates for the children. The children loved it ...they called him "Uncle Alan" and he felt really good. The problem was after the children's party he had no more practical reasons to meet Cindy outside church and couldn't build up enough courage and confidence to ask her out.
One day after the Sunday church service, he saw Cindy and went up to chat with her. Cindy asked him how to setup a home theatre set. Her dad bought one of these systems recently at an electronic show took it home and couldn't figure out how set it up. Alan volunteered to go down her place later that day to help setup it up. When he got to her place, a 5-room flat owned by her parents, he rang the door bell. Cindy's mom opened the door and had this look on her face as it scanned this young man with tattoos all over claiming to be her daughter's friend. She didn't open the door until Cindy came out of her room to let him in. He setup the theatre system quickly and wanted to leave but Cindy asked him to stay for dinner.
While eating dinner, the two old folks (Cindy's parents) kept looking at him and started asking question like he was in some kind of interviews. What work he does, where he lived, whether he drove to work, did he know Cindy in university. Every question he answered his "chance" of getting some kind of "approval" kept dropping. Luckily they didn't ask him if he had been to jail. Then Cindy's father asked Alan what dialect group he belonged to. Alan answered "Hokkien". The old man asked him if he could speak Hokkien, Alan said, "No problem" and started conversing with the old man in Hokkien. Hokkien jokes, Hokkien stories, Hokkien songs. Never in his life was Hokkien so useful and it did really help him to connect with Cindy's father. By the time dinner was over he probably won the heart of one parent, the other one was still looking at his tattoos.,...wondering...
As Alan related his life story to me, the sky darkened as the sun set and the stars began to appear. We looked up at the stars, the memories of our childhood adventures came rolling back. It was about 20 years ago when looked up at the same sky asking ourselves what our lives would be like in the future. Nobody can ever anticipate all the joy and disappointments. I asked Alan, "So how did it go between you and Cindy?".
Alan took out a card from his pocket and said, "I would really like you to come". It was an invitation to his church wedding to be held in a few weeks. The reason he wanted to meet me was to invite me to his wedding.
Alan spent the last 5 years putting together his broken life. A life ravaged by drug addiction and gang activities spiralling quickly down towards a tragic end. It was religion that kept him out of trouble - faith that as long as his heart is filled with goodness, good will come to him.
Alan having told me his story, asked me, "So how, what about you, any girl friend yet?".
I told him half in jest that I was still jobless, which girl in Singapore would want a jobless man with no house, no credit card, no savings and no degree. Alan put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Follow Jesus and girls will follow you". We both broke into laughter.....like the 2 little primary school kids we were 20 years ago.
Friday, 7 September 2012
As a Singaporean, I enter one of the most competitive education system in the
world. Not that I’m stupid, I’m juist average. Average struggling to be better.
Granted, the smartest ones got ahead took the places in the best secondary
school leaving me to school in the less ideal environment of a neighborhood
school. I had to struggle in a bad environment where students have no dream no
ambition and not infrequent to see them join gangs. Who can blame them? They
already believe their lives will amount to nothing. Against the odds I struggle,
teachers who give up on the students given the lousy environment, and surrounded
by students who already gave up on themselves. Claw my way to JC, competition
gets tough as the students from better secondary school have better background
and discipline. Work hard. Finish “A” levels. Drafted in army – told to die for
Results come out. Okay average results. Hopes raised for a better future.
Still serving my country, I applied for a place in the uni. Rejected by all of
them. Went to appeal in my No. 4, saw the campuses filled by foreigners from
China, Vietnam and India. I believe they are probably smarter than me being
sourced from the top 0.1% of the China & Indian population of 1.5 billion
combined. How can I a neighborhood boy compete for places with these top brains
from foreign lands. I’m just an ordinary boy trying his best. Why is this chance
for a better life taken from me?
ORD from, army, those friends with poorer results than me but richer parents
all went to Australia or Canada to study. They say cannot survive without degree
in Singapore. So I don’t have degree, still must survive. Look for job, job pay
pittance. Sometimes work under foreigner. Hop around for a while found out what
the word ’survive’ means. Survive means just keep yourself alive ….but nobody
can stay alive without hope for better days ahead. To buy some hope, I indulge
in 4D everyweek end. That is the best hope for me.
In the end, I realise that is the life of a typical Singaporeans. You see
those long queues at Singapore Pools – they exist because of the simple fact
that a person can’t live without hope and he will grab any he can find …even if
it is false hope.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that the system is particular harsh
on me. It is the same for all average Singaporeans born in poor families. I’m
not allowing these challenges and obstacles they artificially put in my path to
crush me. I’ll press on but I won’t forget those who made life tough for me and
Singapore will always be my home and I’ll not let those who are harsh to me
force me out of my home. I’ll fight to reclaim my future and have my
Cry Freedom Singapore———————
Five stars arise,
Our thoughts idealised
A nation is born,
Our allegiance sworn
Born to a home to call my own
That is all I’ve known, where I’ve grown
Out of the poverty, I came the farthest
My future was bright till they shut the light
Betray us locals and deepen our plight
Our future’s bleak, yet we cannot speak
So I end up struggling, fighting to eat
The less I have, the bolder I get
With my hands, I wave our flag
Democracy, Equality and Justice
Ideals I will die to protect…
Remember Obama's "Yes, we can" speech. In Singapore context, it is more appropriate to have a "Why we can't..." speech.
Two scores and seven years ago, our forefathers had nationhood thrust upon them. Little in the kitty, no oil in the ground and no gold in our vaults, we had only people with working hands and an island entrepot economy sustained carried on the backs of coolies. This was the humble beginnings of our nation from which our grand metropolis emerged.
Today Singapore is the wealthiest nation on earth....on paper. An average income that surpass Switzerland and per capita wealth that puts the Germans to shame. In just over 4 decades we went from living in wooden attap dwelling to million dollar homes. From worrying about food to worrying about obesity. From vacations in Malaysia to vacations in Europe. Singaporeans drive the most expensive cars in the world. Splurge on the most expensive wines, handbags and shoes - the Sauvignon Blancs, the Louis Vuittons, the Ferragamos. All this material wealth wrought by our worship of the capitalism. Capitalism has delivered, to some, the Singapore Dream. This dream in its most extreme form - a home in Sentosa Cove, a couple of Ferraris, children in private schools then Ivy League universities. We also have the highest paid leaders in the world.
Along side this vast wealth, among countries in the developed world we see the oldest working cleaners, the lowest paid bus drivers, the lowest paid kindergarten teachers, the lowest paid cashiers and lowest paid factory workers. Its like 2 parallel universe. So is it true our cleaners, bus drivers and cashiers are the least productive in the developed world that is why they are paid so little? Why is it these people deserve so little for doing the same jobs as their counterparts and our leaders are paid triple their counter-parts in other developed countries for doing exactly the same job.
I want to spend some time to explain to you "why we can't" pay these Singaporeans more and our leaders and the rich less under our current economic system.
This is about "why we can't...."
Our wealth is build and always been build on the back of labor that is cheap. Be it the 70s when we started attracting investments from Japan,USA and UK, our main selling point is hardworking people willing to accept low pay. How else do we attract capital?
In the 1980s, the National Wage council pushed wages up too quickly, we immediately see a repercussion - a recession due to loss of competitiveness. In the 90s, Singapore flew on the back of the electronic boom. Wages rose. China emerged as a cheap labor competitor. In order to continue attracting, we started opening the floodgates to foreign workers so that capital will still keep coming.
The heart of this model is dependence on foreign capital as driver of growth. Therefore the need to keep cost of labor low to keep it coming. But there is a clear conflict when China became part of the global eco-system. In order to grow, we have to keep labor so cheap, that growth no longer benefits a large section of the labor force whose wages became stagnant. The Singapore economy and society became split as a result of these changes - those lodge up in the hierarchy benefiting from the capital inflows and profits generated by exploiting this cheap labor. I say exploit because labor rules became relaxed Singapore workers are easy to fire, easy to retrench, no minimum pay protection, no pension, no medical benefits, no union....So the Singapore society became split between high and low income groups, rich and poor, labor and higher management. The PAP style policies to keep growing by importing labor is like a wedge driving the society apart in the center. Those who benefited from the influx hence embrace foreigners and those who suffered from it - now labelled as negative, xenophobic people by the leadership - further driving apart our society apart. The strategy now is to force this group to accept their suffering and their disadvantaged position.
This whole system is unsustainable, just like the slave economies of Confederate states in old America. When there are 400,000 workers in Singapore cannot make enough wages to support themselves and their families and depend on state Workfare to survive, something is wrong...very wrong. Today there is a band-aid of wealth transfer + workfare costing us $8B per year in social spending. This number will grow as the income gap grows, cost of living rises, and the need for social spending rises. There is nothing in our model - now made worse by dependency on foreign labor- that will lead to a good outcome. If the income gap keep growing, the social spending will rise because these workers cannot make enough when they work and they can't make enough to retire. Like one PAP MP once said these lower paid less educated workers are not going to just die off and solve the problem.
Our current $3B budget surplus will disappear and we will have to eat our reserves to keep going or raise taxes. Like Obama vs Romney hard choices will have to be made. But one thing you cannot do in a system where voting is still used to select leaders is to cut the minimal type of social spending in Singapore. If the govt did not give out Workfare, 400000 workers will not make enough to live - what do you think will happen at the ballot box?
In summary we have an economic system dependent on cheap labor i.e. low wages, this generates the need to raise our social spending, which in turn leads to a shift in our fiscal position from surplus to deficit. It is also an unequal system where there are too many working for low wages and a small number positioned high up in the wealth ladder creating significant advantages for their next generation. It has already destroyed our so-called meritocracy. Wealth transfers + social spending will eventually put us in fiscal dilemma - these should be done as a temporary stop gap measure so that we can find a way out.
How do we break this cycle -> high income gap--> Need for more social spending--> need for more foreign investments---> need more cheap labor---> even higher income gap. The model is generating very bad outcomes for a growing number of wage earners....a rising burden for the state...a social divide that is increasing, The whole sustainability of the system is in question. There is also a falling fertility rate to contend with. This vicious cycle also means the financial outcomes for a growing number of Singaporeans will worsen - unable to retire, shrinking middleclass, worries of medical costs, worries about cost of living. The social spending merely prevent families from drowning in hopeless poverty putting their heads just above water to take a breath.
The PAP solution to all this IMPORT MORE WORKERS. Look at the cycle...importing more workers is part of the vicious cycle. ..IT WILL NEVER LEAD TO BROAD PROSPERITY...only maintain the advantages of those who are today wealthy.
There are a few ways to break the cycle:
1. Stop importing more foreigners - live with the current size of workforce. No other country needs to expand workforce at the rate we had in the last few years.
2. Generate homegrown industry, drive domestic demand and investment to stop dependence on foreign capital.
3. Innovate, raise productivity and wages.
Unfortunately, none of the above will happen as long as we are in the current economic model. Businesses will pressure govt to stay on the vicious cycle and keep us in this loop. Some Singaporeans who are doing well because they are well positioned do not care about others will lobby to keep this system. Economists such as Lim Chong Yah has recommended wage shock therapy so we can go to (3) innovation, productivity...and force the wage gap to close. He idea and the basic principles of his idea was rejected by the PAP govt that tends to side businesses. But the more we enter the vicious spiral, the harder it is go get out....the more the PAP will stick to the model because problems become harder and harder to solve - they rather not solve it.
"WHY WE CAN'T" .....WE CAN TALK AND TALK...CONVERSE AND CONVERSE until the cow come home. But the boundaries preventing change is all there until we find a leader with strong and great vision to guide us out of this vicious loop. One who is daring to play the hand and not kowtow to businesses' greed for profits but steer them with the right incentives towards a more sustainable model that will result in shared prosperity and ultimately a long lasting prosperity. We cannot expect the workers to always shoulder the burdens of economic growth and companies always to reap the benefits disproportionately. This cannot continue for too long.
The reason WHY WE CAN'T is LACK OF LEADERSHIP and the COURAGE TO CHANGE.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
This points is taken from:
This is website that discredits the govt by pretending to be pro-govt....I enjoy all the sarcastic articles there in which the writers pretend to be unthinking supporters of the PAP govt believing all the propaganda from the mainstream media and beleving words coming directly out of politicians. The above picture taken from the webpage is one good example of the sarcasm used to criticise the PAP. It is quite obvious that all the "bad" characteristics listed so frequently is seen in PAP politiciansyet, the writers in Fabrications About the PAP says the PAP is good - it is quite obvious what they are up to. I think the real name of the website should be Fabrications BY the PAP because it displays all the PAP propaganda in full view and have ghost writers pretend to support the propaganda in a brainwashed manner without thinking.
The website is overall brilliant in its concept.
Characteristics of bad leadership:
1. Have a sense of sense of entilement : pay themselves millions.
2. Hold a grudge : Look at the way they go after opposition, using character assassination, defamation laws suits and ISA.
3. Take credit for all the success : The PAP always say without the PAP Singapore would not have succeeded.
4. Blame others for their failures. They always blame Singaporeans for not being good enough to execute their plam when it fails.
5. Criticise. Now they criticise Singaporeans for being xenophobic and anti-FT when Singaporeans are generally very accepting of foreigners until PAP abuse this by opening the floodgates.
6. Don't know what they want to be, never set goals,fly by the seats of their paints : - So what is the goal for Singapore?...until now still no clear vision.
See how the authors of FabricationsAboutPAP brilliantly use the points in bold to pretend to criticise opposition when they are clearly referring to the PAP.
1. 1990s Singaporeans live in harmony and foreigners were welcome - no issue. Numbers were okay and many were indeed skilled.
2. The PAP started importing people in large numbers at all skills levels to satisfy businesses who always complain cannot get workers. This is a perpetual complain even after importing 1M foreign workers, today the same companies are still complaining cannot get enough workers. Why? Because the pay and benefits are only good enough to attract workers from 3rd world countries. It is mind boggling why govt cede to the demands of business just to keep GDP growing.
3. As the numbers became larger and larger, no corresponding increase in public transport service, housing and medical care service took place. In fact the number of beds in our public hospital declined. This lead to suffering among Singaporeans as housing prices shoot up, medical cost shoot up and public transport become packed like no body's business.
4. People NATURALLY BECAME ANGRY.
5. A small minority begin to take issue with certain behavior of foreigners in Singapore. They voice their anger and fury. This type of people exists in ALL COUNTRIES... In Hong Kong these groups put out a full page ad calling mainland Chinese "locusts"...Singaporeans' response is mild even the small angry minority is mild ..99% of the people opposing the policy are primarily concerned with the large numbers and negative impact on our social compact, identity and nationhood.
6. Politicians instead of solving problems use this to negative behavior of a very small negligible to scold Singaporeans for being hostile to foreigners - XENOPHOBIC and Anti-Foreigners.
7. Now any opposition to the foreign influx policy can be label as xenophobic..."not welcoming foreigners", not big -hearted, small minded, spoiling Singapore's international reputation.
8. In you read any international report or article it is always very balanced and explains the frustration as the result of over-import of foreigners. Yet the PAP twisted it around to say Singaporeans spoil the international reputation of Singapore.
If the so-called National Conversation is to start with this tone ...what kind of a conversation is it? It is so loaded with insinuations that those who oppose the PAP policies are out to spoil Singapore's reputation, small minded people and unkind to foreigners. This is PAP way of conversing with the people. No wonder people don't like to talk to the PAP. ...they just make us all feel so sick.
http://sgordinary.blogspot.com ...a blog for the views of common everyday Singaporeans.