Monday, 30 June 2014

Employees that stay in companies longer than 2 years get paid 50% less!!!

 

Employees that stay in companies longer than 2 years get paid 50% less!!!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/cameronkeng/2014/06/22/employees-that-stay-in-companies-longer-than-2-years-get-paid-50-less/

Key Takeaways from the article :

(1) Within 10 years of working, your salary will be 50% less.
(2) If your annual increment is less than 5%, time to look around.
(3) Own your own career, you are the CEO of yourself.

Friday, 23 May 2014

A Picture tells a thousand words - Singapore The Costliest City in the World !

A Picture tells a thousand words - Singapore The Costliest City in the World !


The noise is resounding 98.4%, yet the government ministers still insist that Singapore is not expensive. They still have their heads stuck in the ground like ostriches.

I wonder who the 232 people who said No are ?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Petition calling PM Lee to resign from office launched

Petition calling PM Lee to resign from office launched

Petition : Singapore_Prime_Minister_Lee_Resign_from_Office/

Let me weight in on what cause this petition to arise. PM Lee said that Singapore belongs to everyone staying here in Singapore including Foreigners on work permit passes. It may be a slip of the tongue or an intentional way of pacifying the foreigners who have bore the brunt of anti-foreigner sentiment in Singapore.

I doubt that the speech writers for PM Lee would have made such an insensitive boo-boo in the midst of so much dissatisfaction. So I discount the possibility of it being a slip of tongue, especially since the phrase was crafted with much thought behind it “Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here, (are) all participating in one big Singapore family … So that we feel that this is a place which is special, which belongs to all of us and where we all celebrate one another’s festivals and happy events together.” If that is the case, it is extremely disturbing on what it implies and that the statement was deliberate. It means that so long as you are physically here in Singapore, regardless of what ever contributions, service, family roots, etc, you own a piece of Singapore's land, resources and wealth. Is PM Lee so desperate to welcome any and everyone to Singapore? Are all the talk about nation building and national service just hog-wash?

The petition is unlikely to change anything, but at least it will highlight the displeasure and frustrations of all Singaporeans on such thoughtless remarks from our so-called leader. So I urge all who are unhappy with his statement to sign the petition. The alternative of keeping quiet and letting everything slip-by was the mistake Singaporeans have made for too long a time.

 

 


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Terrible mid-term report card for the A-grade pay PAP Government



Terrible mid-term report card for the A-grade pay PAP Government
In the Straits Times Insight Section of 19 April 2014, the newspaper published their results of a survey done of 500 Singaporeans. It would be interesting to ask who these 500 Singaporeans were. And assuming by association that they would try to interview grassroots or governmental-affiliated people, the results are even more disastrous. (note in point, the CNA telecast of conversation with PM LEE where they discovered majorty of the participants were from grassroots organizations.) (http://youarebetteroffted.blogspot.sg/2012/09/singapore-con-version-2012-proof.html) As usual, the newspaper being a mouth piece of the Government did their best to water-down the impact and tried to state that several changes needed more time to be effective. Unfortunately, it does not hide the fact that the mid-term report card was terrible. For a country obsessed with grades, I have taken the liberty of translating the survey results.

(1) Health Care and the elderly, survey results “B”, actual “C”

The Government started a charm offensive with the Pioneer Generation Package and Medishield Life to defray health costs and focus on the people older than 65 years olds who has been Singaporeans since 1986. (note : the second criteria was after Singaporeans feedback that there needs to be numbers of years, reflecting the concerns of free given citizenships by the government to foreigners over the years.) I would have to give credit to the Government in their better PR efforts to gain political leverage by publicizing the PGP and Medishield Life. It seemed to make an impact on the survey results. It will help all families with elderly members better manage health care costs and concerns, especially the well-established phrase “It is better and cheaper to die in Singapore, than to get sick and undergo costly treatments in Singapore Hospitals to die all the same.”
However, let’s be pragmatic, did the Government suddenly realized that the silver hair Tsunami was coming ? No, it was well known after they changed the birth rate policy to correct the future lopsided demographics. Then why this package now? In one simple word, Votes. The Pioneer Generation, those above 65 years of age, were known to be staunchly PAP supporters, having gone through the nation-building efforts together and the majority have seen significant improvements to their own and children lives. So it must have been an amazing vote swing in the 2011 elections that have displayed the unhappiness of this Generation to the missteps in housing, transport, foreign workers policy that they see affecting themselves and their off-springs.  Unfortunately for the PAP, trust once lost will take much more than a PGP to regain back. In 2011, the younger generation influenced the votes of the pioneer generation, in 2016, the grandchildren generation will greatly influence the votes.

(2) Housing, survey results “B+”, actual “B-“

The intense increase in BTO HDB flats and seven rounds of cooling measures have served the government well. COVs and the waiting time for newly wedded couples have come down dramatically. Also PRs cannot buy HDB flats until they waited three years. This is reflected in the survey. But still bear in mind that Singapore property prices are still one of the highest in the world and the ratio of salary to housing prices still remain at unsustainable levels. Worst still foreigner ownership of non-landed private property are still continues unabated and welcomed by the Government.
 
(3) Transport, survey results “D-”, actual “F”

Of all the sections, Transportation fared the worst, this affects everyone everyday when they go to school, work, shopping, etc. All the promised improvement of more trains, more maintenance, more buses have not translated to a more comfortable ride. Now 3 years after the 2011 elections, we still read about regular breakdowns on the MRT and terrible long bus waits. And despite all these, they had the audacity to raise the fare rates. Car prices and COEs are at ridiculous prices and yet we see the rich foreigners flaunting their money by driving Maserati, Ferraris and Porsches on the congested Singapore roads. Attempts to correct COE prices, by insisting on a higher downpayment and tweaking the category did nothing to improve the situation, only re-emphasizing the helplessness of middle-class Singaporeans. I doubt these issues will be solved satisfactorily before the next election and the Transport Minister will just be replaced again having walked off with a handsome multi-million salary.

(4) Foreign Workers, survey results “C“, actual “D-”  

The survey claims that foreign workers policy was not on the high priority of Singaporeans, I think they have got it wrong. Cases such as Anton Casey (
http://youarebetteroffted.blogspot.sg/2014/01/why-singaporeans-need-to-revoke-antons.html) and the recent Philippines Day Celebration show that the issue of foreigners in Singapore is still very much in the forefront. The people Singaporeans interact with everyday are very much in their face. When you have trouble communicating with the service waitress or when every nurse has a foreign accent, it is a stark reminder how Singapore has changed due to the ineptness of this Government. We need foreigners in many sectors of our industries, but what are the right amount and the right integration timeframe so as not to erode our Singapore core?  Is the Government going to correctly revise the Population White Paper for the next elections? What is the acceptable timeframe for a PR to decide to convert to Singapore Citizenship? These are unanswered questions that should been addressed.

Conclusion

Some of the sectors seemed to be at acceptable grades, however, these need to be put into perspective to the salary grade of our government. Our first Prime Minister claims that in order to get the A-team in Singapore to run the country you need to pay them A-grade salaries, even more than any country in the world. I think Singaporeans have been seriously shortchanged. If Singapore was a private company and this was the mid-term report of the Executive Team, the Board of Directors and Shareholders would already have asked them to resign. Unfortunately for Singaporeans, we do not have a ready alternative in place, so we grit our teeth & put up with a less than desirable team. It is Singaporeans’ imperative to build up a credible alternative that would be able to function and deliver like the A-grade team we deserve.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tommy Koh’s ST Article Hits the Nail on the Head




Tommy Koh wrote a very interesting article “Is there an ideological cleavage in Singapore?” in the Newspapers today. He muses what he describes as the belief system and shared values that Singaporeans uphold and if these have changed. In simple words the Rules of Singapore Society. He listed the five as :
 
  • Free trade and investment
  • Market economy
  • Globalization
  • Foreign Talent
  • Meritocracy

For each of the values listed, I analyzed my perception of the general Singaporean’s ideals and contrast what our Government leaders are actually practicing.

Free trade and investment

For the most part of it, Singaporeans understand that we need free trade to be moving smoothly, we are a country with no natural resources or agricultural hinterland. Food is mostly imported together with all the equipment, fuel, car spare parts and yes, importantly iPhones and Samsung mobile phones, to keep the country going. Let’s face it, if Singapore was besieged by an immense flotilla of warships, we would probably last a few weeks at most a month. This is also aligned with Tommy Koh’s article. The Government has also been clear that free trade is necessary, and has made progress in accessing non-traditional resource markets and keeping our borders open with little protectionist policies nor high import taxes. 

Market economy

Singaporeans feel that the right balance of private and public sectors in the economy makes sense. On one hand we need private companies to make a decent profit, continue to innovate and bring value to the market place where consumers are willing to pay for the goods and services. However, goods and services that should not be driven by profit such as health care, education, defense etc should be clearly under the public sector. Tommy did not make a clear distinction of this and his main point was that whilst we accept a market economy, we do not accept a market society where winner-takes-all. So what has the Government been doing? In one word, “Befuddled”. Certain services such as Defense, Water resources, Land resources, Tax departments are clearly run by public institutions and very successfully in some cases. But others are in a mixed-up hybrid scenario.

First bugbear is Public Housing, by the very virtue of the name implies it a Public Good, but with the series of poorly appointed Housing Ministers, the HDB had lost it’s mission. DBSS, ECs, prices pegged to market rates, have caused major discontent in the populace. Things are turning around, but the jury is still out there whether these are structural changes or a band-aid.

Secondly, Public Transport is a Frankenstein epic disaster, Public Transport operators are  expected to make a profit while at the same time maintaining service standards, while the Government funds these operators’ capital investments in the form of buses and trains. As what a local blogger succinctly declared “Privatizing Profits, Nationalizing Costs”, it is not rocket science, Private or Public Transport, make a decision, don’t feed a Monster.

Health care is in a slightly better position, but still some aspects of it smack of bureaucrats trying to act too smart. Singaporeans are clear that if they have a complicated and/or urgent medical condition which requires a very experienced surgeon, the private hospitals/medical route is the way to go. Polyclinics and Public hospitals provide credible healthcare at subsidized prices, but only for people who can wait 3 to 6 months. But if you need the condition to be addressed faster, get off the subsidized prices and pay private prices. So the Public Healthcare system discriminates whether you can pay for faster service?

Globalization

Singapore belongs to an interconnected world and Singaporeans would definitely reject being an isolated regime such as North Korea. Free flow of ideas, technology, people and capital from all parts of the world makes Singapore a vibrant city. But as Tommy quipped, we are also a country with no hinterland to escape to or avoid the omnipresent crush of people. And I read with a faint smile on his jibe at Anton Casey (http://youarebetteroffted.blogspot.sg/2014/01/why-singaporeans-need-to-revoke-antons.html) , “the growing resentment felt by many Singaporeans that wealthy foreigners are free-riders. They come here to make money and lead very comfortable lives, but give little or nothing back in return. To make matters worse, some of them have a disrespectful attitude towards Singaporeans.”

How about the Government’s position on Global City or Singaporean Home ? They use either as convenient spin-doctor propaganda. When it serves their agenda, they proclaim it a Global City as necessary to encourage business startups and employment to attract rich Chinese, Indonesians and Russians whose money are suspect. And manipulate the theme “Singapore Home” when they tell Singaporeans to sacrifice two years of their prime for National Service. Many of us may have the similar experience when bonus time comes around, and your company CEO tells you that business is tough and the external environment is uncertain. The CEO then change his/her tune to future career opportunities and upbeat business forecasts when you receive a competing job offer. Make no doubt about it, PAP’s Government goal is the ensuring the survival of Singapore the Global City, regardless if Singaporeans are part of that survival equation or not. (http://youarebetteroffted.blogspot.sg/2012/10/first-hand-acccount-population-dialogue.html).

Foreign Talent

Let’s be pragmatic, Singapore cannot function without any foreigners, we need the thousands of workers who labour in construction sites, cleaners, cooks, waiters, housekeepers, retail executives etc. These are mostly hard working people who want to earn enough and return home to their families.

What Singaporeans are indignant about is encapsulated in George Orwell’s Animal Farm quote, “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Tommy also alluded to this in his article, “First, Singapore discovered that some so-called foreign talent was not very talented. Second, there was the discovery that, in some cases, when a foreign chief executive officer was hired, he or she discriminated against Singaporeans when hiring staff.” Singaporeans are sick of their leaders placing foreigners on a pedestal just because they come from a foreign land.

Before the bruising 2011 elections, the government was adamant that their consultants were correct, and that foreign talent were more talented rather than foreign. Many worthy and talented Singaporeans were sidelined or never given the opportunities in this xenophilic environment. They have now changed their tune with the National Jobs Bank where companies have to demonstrate that they cannot hire Singaporeans within a certain period before they can hire foreigners. Time will tell, if this is a charade to appease the electorate for the next elections or an effective tool to stem foreign workplace invasion.  A first step is to acknowledge that they were wrong and not all foreigners are talented. We have yet to see this realization in official speeches.

Meritocracy

Pursuit of a better life, strive for excellence and meritocracy are cardinal drivers for Singaporeans. We celebrate our successful members of society be it when Singapore wins the Asian football cup or when Anthony Chen’s ilo ilo wins Camera D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. And as Tommy stated, “Singapore want to be assured that meritocracy is accompanied by social mobility.”

In general, the government over the years has performed reasonably well in this arena, increasing open places in prestigious primary schools for non-affiliated children, scholarships and bursaries for bright children who should not be disadvantaged due to their parents’ economic background. However, it is not all a rosy picture, why are scholarships that could be given to needy Singaporeans given to Asean scholars, Chinese post-graduate students and visiting academia? Many of whom only use Singapore as a stepping stone to greener pastures overseas. Rolling stones gather no moss. Singaporeans want more dollars given to the taxi-driver’s son or daughter who may not be as academically bright as a chinese scholar, but who would be a respectable upright member of Singapore’s society. Rather than anointing a nomad who would flee once the going gets tough. The government needs some soul-searching in this regard.

Conclusion
After this deliberating thought exercise, I would say that Singaporeans continue to uphold the belief system and values that make us unique, competitive and highly regarded world-wide. The crux of the problem is that these values have been mutated to suit the government’s own misguided goals. The ideological cleavage in the belief system is really between Singaporeans and the existing PAP government, and if the government does not Repent, then perhaps a hammer would be needed to hit the nail on PAP’s head.  

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Why Singaporeans need to Revoke Anton’s PR Status


I was triggered to write this article in response to both Straits Times Editors Chua Mui Hoong’s appeal to Singaporeans to move on and also the Gen Sec of Singapore Kindness Movement to emphasize with Anton Casey. The point they were trying to make across is that he has apologize, (though insincerely through a PR firm) and that we should be more magnanimous and forgive him. Unfortunately, both of them have failed to grasp what is really transpiring here, and why we have to be unrelenting in taking the next step forward to revoke Anton’s PR Status.

(1) 2nd Class citizens in Singapore, where foreign talents can do no wrong and Singaporeans castigated.

Singaporeans recognize that we are an immigrant society and generally welcoming for tourists and foreigners who are respectful & contribute to Singapore. It is actually the indignity accorded by our own government who coined the term “foreign talents” and accuse Singaporeans who find green pastures overseas “quitters”. In our own country, we are disadvantaged in terms of National Service obligations, xenophile preference for high level jobs, e.g. SGX, scholarships for foreign students etc. LHL recently proclaimed that he will in no uncertain terms be welcoming of more foreign Billionaires in Singapore. This is a government that claims to be working for the good of Singaporeans, while in reality will sell out ordinary Singaporeans in a heart-beat for more Anton Caseys. Every time foreigners are involved in an incident, they will always find some excuses for them to mitigate their misdeeds. Little India Riot it was alcohol, and now the Straits Times articles ask Singaporeans to be forgiving. Tay Ping Hui has more sense of the ground swell unhappiness than the clueless government or state media. This is a case of the classic saying “give them an inch, they will take a foot”.

(2) Economic Inequality faced by Singaporeans

Now, if Anton Casey was a common blue-collar foreign worker in Singapore who posted those Facebook postings, perhaps in the form of complaining on the public transport, the netizens will be less enraged and probably ambivalent . The main reason why the postings went viral, was that it was a provocative slap in the face of many Singaporeans of the economic inequality between the haves and have-nots. At a time when, fare hikes have increased despite worsening service levels, Anton who WAS a wealth manager had the audacity to flaunt his expensive car and insulted everybody who has ever taken the public transport. It strikes at the heart of the value that Singaporeans uphold, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. He had benefitted from the policy exception that allowed a non-Singaporean to buy a landed property in Singapore’s Sentosa Cove, married a Singaporean woman registering with the Registry of Marriages, used the hospital facilities in Singapore to deliver his Singaporean son and worked in a safe and secure Singapore environment to make his money. Showing off his money to Singaporeans, is analogous to grabbing a handful of Singaporean homeland soil and rubbing into our faces.
 
(3) Flaw Permanent Residence Status policy

Why has a person who has a 12 –year Permanent Residency, continue to be a Permanent Resident ? Both his wife and son are Singaporeans, he has an expensive property and a successful Singapore career. Because the government allows him to do so. This is a major policy flaw that allows PRs to continue enjoying all the benefits of being a Citizen (except the right to vote), without actually committing to a country to grow their roots and defend their way of life. How long is enough? 5 years, 10 years, 50 years? The governments’ position is that they want to be flexible and allow PRs to decide when they want to become Citizens. But it just cultivates people who will flee when a crisis hits Singapore or themselves, such as Amy Cheong and Anton Casey. Do we really want these PRs ? Currently the criteria for issuing PR status are arbitrarily done focusing on job status, wealth, relations. Do we need a more transparent list of criteria that includes social and volunteer work?

(4) Strong Message needs to be delivered

We are continuously accused of being keyboard warriors, hiding behind the computer and ineffectual. But if Singapore netizens can force a Minister to issue a facebook statement on the matter, make a bigot get fired from his job and flee the country (in that chronological order), we actually punch way above what the government tries to portray us to be. We need to send a strong message to the Government and the foreigner community living in Singapore, that we reject such a foreigner and revoke his permanent residency. Singaporeans are tolerant, non-confrontational and generally accepting to new people, ideas and concepts. But never push us to the wall, good-will is finite and patience has a limit.

Conclusion

Singaporeans need to make a clear stand to purge the bad and keep the good. If our government behaves like a 51-year old prostitute, it does not mean that Singaporeans have to. We need to be more discerning and we have the power to do so.

My last parting remark for Anton Casey, is to wish him a Happy Chinese New Year, enjoy it in Perth, Singaporeans do not ever want a Reunion dinner with you.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Continuous problems in Singapore are symptomatic of Leadership failure


The image of police cars in flames and riot police in full gear is a tragic scene that is now embossed into the horrified minds of Singaporeans. Never in 40 years has there been a riot in the secure and safe Singapore that Singaporeans are proud of. Of course, it is being argued now that the riots were caused by a minority of foreign workers and that most here are law-abiding and some were even heroes trying to stop the rioters from hurting people. The authorities have taken swift action, arrested and charged 27 men who were directly involved. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) has been set up to investigate the reason behind the riot.

There are a lot of questions being asked on the riot, why did the rioters only attacked uniformed cars and personnel? Rioters in other countries typically take the opportunity to loot shops and steal stuff ? Considering that the Police Force is the authority giving out liquor licenses, why did they give out 374 licenses in the area, and now alcohol is the culprit?

But looking at the bigger picture, the key question that begs to be answered is whether this riot has been preordained with the continuous problems in Singapore?

The most recent incident before this was the July 2013 brutal Kovan murder of a 67-year old owner of a motor workshop and his 43-year old son at their home at Hillside Drive allegedly by a Police Senior Staff Sergeant no less.  

Worthy of mention is also the Oct 2013 corruption case of a Singapore diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) by overbilling authorities by S$89,000 by overstating the amount of gift bought for official purposes. Worse still, an assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), anti-corruption watchdog, was charged with misappropriating S$1.7 million. Part of the money was allegedly used for gambling at the Marina Bay Sands Casino.

In May 2013, the highest ranking civil servant in recent times, the Civil Defense Force (CDF) chief was found guilty of trading contracts for sex. An associate professor of law was also found guilty of abusing his position by having sex with a student and taking gifts from her.

Related to the Little India’s foreign workers riots, there was the Nov 2012 two-days illegal strike by 170 SMRT Chinese bus drivers to protest against pay and living conditions. This was the first strike in Singapore in 25 years. As a warning to the rest, the ring leaders were jailed six-weeks and then deported back to China.

And the list can go on with the Dec 2011 major disruption in SMRT, the flooding of Orchard road in Jun 2010 and escape of the terrorist Mas Selamat.

Sure the Singapore leadership can claim that these are discrete and isolated events, but are they?

A simple benchmarking would be the period of leadership before LHL was appointed the Prime Minister in 2004. Sure there were some difficulties during GCT’s leadership, but a riot and a strike in the space of one year? At least in my mind, it is a clear failure of the current leadership.

So what are the possible causes for the failure in leadership?

1.   A group-think mentality and incestuous talent pool

Despite claims to the contrary, the group-think mentality cannot be swept under the carpet. A disproportionate number of the ministers are from the SAF, specifically the Transport Minister, the Manpower Minister, the Minister for Home Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister and even the Prime Minister himself. Several others are from the Civil Service or Government related agencies. If you surround yourself with Yes-Men and Yes-Women, you are just like the Emperor with no clothes.

2.   Complacency and money driven view of the world

The self-righteous view of the leadership is that if they provide economic growth for Singapore, the society would begrudgingly accept their money drive view of the world and fall in line. The corruption cases are partly influenced by such a value of chasing money. They obstinately import foreigners into Singapore to drive growth, making up 1.3 million of the total 5.4 million on the small island, without due consideration of the consequences of their actions.

The complacency was further demonstrated by a Population White Paper planning to squeeze 6.9 million into Singapore, which lead to a large protest at Hong Lim Park un-heard of in Singapore.
 
3.   Focusing on fixing the Opposition, rather than fixing the problems

With a bruising 2011 General Elections and 2 humiliating By-election defeats, the ruling party has spent more time and effort trying to discredit the main opposition party than focusing on solving the problems that they had caused in the first place. Un-necessary air time in Parliament and state-owned media was used to debate quarterly hawker centre ceiling cleaning, when the time should have been put to better use. It is actually ironical and also poetic that the ruling party had a convention on the same day as the riots, with plans to take the offensive against the opposition in the next General Elections. People in power are just paranoid of losing power.
 
So the final question to ask is whether the Little India riots is the final display of the leadership failure that we will see in Singapore ? I seriously doubt it. More spectacular boo-boos are just waiting to manifest, I just hope no more Singaporeans get hurt.