Friday, December 21, 2007

You decide: which is the real letter to ST forum

Quite shocking actually at how much the orginal letter was changed. I need to verify the original contents from the author though.

But just look at how the contents were twisted! I nearly went into convulsions. And to think ST dared to put the writer's name (Agung Santoso Ongko) at the end of it!

Pay rise for top civil servants timely (ST published forum letter)

I READ with great relief the article about ministers and top civil servants getting a 4-21 per cent pay rise next month (ST, Dec 14).

We can now be assured that only the most competent people will serve the country. With the rise in their remuneration, we have secured their steadfast service, as well as their continued fervour and dedication to fight for our cause. It could not be more timely. When inflation is soaring and some Singaporeans 'can barely stay afloat' (The Sunday Times, Dec 2), we need, more than ever, the best possible team of civil servants to lead us through the difficulties.

We cannot afford to lose them to the private sector, and have to retain them at all costs. This is especially so as these senior civil servants have been in the public sector for so long that they are likely to seek fresh experience in the private sector.

With the festive season coming, I hope that they will not forget to share the joy of receiving with the less fortunate. Therefore, I appeal to them to follow Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lead in giving to the poor and spreading the blessings.

Writer's clarification:
I'm so glad somebody finally smelt a hint of my original intention for this Forum entry. Honestly, I read with GREAT HORROR the published version of my own e-mail on ST Forum 18/12/2007. Whatever was published on the Forum page on 18/12/2007 may be similar to what I had originally written, but the omissions made by the editors have actually changed its intended meaning altogether. I have reproduced below my original article as I had sent it to the ST editors:

"
I read with great relief the ST article “Ministers, top civil servants to get 4% to 21% pay rise in Jan” published on 13 December 2007. We can now rest doubly assured that only the most competent people will serve the country. With the rise in their remuneration, we have successfully secured their most steadfast service, as well as their continued fervour and dedication in fighting for our cause. Certainly, it cannot be timelier. At this point, when inflation is soaring and some Singaporeans “can barely stay afloat” (The Sunday Times 02 December 2007), we are in dire need, more than ever, for the best possible team of civil servants to lead us through all these difficulties. We cannot afford to lose them to the private sector, and have to fight to retain them at all costs. This is especially so, as these senior civil servants have been dwelling in the public sector for such a long time that they are more likely indeed to seek a fresh experience in the private sector.

With the festive season coming, though, I sincerely hope that they will not forget to share the joy of receiving with the less fortunate in our midst, for the total annual increment that every senior civil servant is set to receive can actually support approximately 1,000 other Singaporeans. Therefore, I appeal to our senior civil servants to follow PM Lee's lead in giving back to the poor and spreading the blessings. What that increase means to you means infinitely more to them.
"

If it has not become apparent to you by now, I had meant this piece to be satirical. And I admit that I may have failed miserably. I admit that it may be my own incompetent, ambiguous writing that has resulted in the gross misunderstanding. It is indeed possible that my vagueness has led to the editors misreading my intentions and viewing all the hyperboles and superlatives as redundant emphasis on my support for the pay rise. I shall, however, leave it to you readers to decide for yourself.

I hope I have made my position clear, though: that I am strongly opposed to the unwise timing of the ministerial pay rise, and that if it happens anyway, I call for those benefiting from it to share with those among us who live on $290 a month, and are saving every single cent just to continue surviving.

- Agung Santoso Ongko

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The pen is mightier than the sword.
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Settling nicely into the new house

We've finally moved and had our first sleepover on 16 Dec last Sunday!

It is a challenge to relocate in Aussieland (or move house in Singlish). Nearly everything is DYI! That applies to coordinating the renovation works. Labour cost is so expensive too.

In other words, YOU are the main contractor. We had to coordinate the resources, the quotes, the timings, the task dependencies and the overall schedule. For example, the cabinets installations, followed by the electrical and plumbing works in which only certain people can do the cooker and hood, the oven, the sink... and then the electricity outputs/sockets, the cooker hood outlet, etc.

As a matter of face, I need to be in the construction industry to know what's going on.

One word - SIONG.

Back in Singapore, we just had to pay a fixed price to the main contractor. He will in turn assign and schedule the sub-contractors to install and fix the items up.

As usual, we had a couple of boo-boos. The plumber, who was doing the cooker vent outlet, would not install the hood. The hood is an electrical appliance, he said. So we had to call in the electrician who said he would not install the hood, or it wasn't part of the agreed contract with us. Anyway we needed to cut a hole in the cabinet for the vent outlet before he could connect the electrical wire to the hood. So we called in the kitchen cabinet guy who said it was supposed to be the hood installer's job, or in other words, the plumber's job.

Welcome to Australia, as my colleagues like to say.

*sigh* Anyway, praise God, we had a very good kitchen-cabinet contractor (a Chinese national) who helped us to coordinate. He also assisted with so many additional, nitty-gritty things without charging us. May God bless his soul and prosper him!

This renovation occurred while we were shifting from the old place. So you can imagine the big mess in the house - dusty (due to on-going renovation works), messy (with many boxes, furniture and tools) with half-done painting job (as I fell sick over the weekend and it was too messy to paint).

But thanks be to missus who cleaned and mopped the place up while I was at work. She also helped coordinate with the various parties and ran the administration and finance department like a well-oiled engine. I'd think she can set up her own company. I really thank God for her. Kudos to missus, she rocks big time!

Rachel, in her usual bubbly but sometimes irritating self (especially when you are busy and she keeps asking you about a subject), has been generally helpful in doing her own art and craft work. She had a sleepover at her friend's place the previous night as the place was still messy.

More like she needed someone to play with and kept on bugging me until I relented. Talk about the persistent widow and the judge. For the past few nights, she had been sleeping with us as her room was also messy. While she was at the sleepover, missus and I managed to fix up her bed and put away her clothes and toys into the wardrobe. Last night however, she slept in her own room for the first time (albeit with another SG friend who stayed over). She slept like a log.

Kids are kids. As long as they are having fun, they are unconcerned with anything else around them.

Me? I just pray. And pray. I kept looking toward Jesus while everything was falling apart. I had to remind missus that we made the right decision in buying the place, and doing up the renovations. I had to assure her that everything will be in place and we needed to hold hands as we walk THROUGH the 'valley of the shadow of death'. This was in spite of me wondering when we would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, look at where we are now.

9 months and I am a proud owner of a two-storey house. And the land is mine. Not some 99-year lease.

The house is fantastic and spacious. We are enjoying every bit of it and the togetherness we have as a family in cleaning and touching up to make it beautiful. It is also conveniently located near to a huge shopping centre, and the most importantly - waking up to the beautiful mountain view each morning.

Priceless.

Hopefully I can upload the pictures. The internet connection will only be setup next week, 27 Dec and I'll be on company leave from X'mas till New Year.

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Thank you, Jesus. You were cursed so that I may be blessed. You had nothing so that I can have everything good from my Father. Apart from You, we can do nothing; in and through You, we have everything.

Wishing you readers a very blessed Christmas and a great week ahead!
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moving to new house this weekend

Still under renovation with the kitchen cabinets not fully installed yet. Also doing up some painting. Hopefully everything is completed by Christmas.

Will take some photos and post them here.
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