Monday, January 26, 2009

Singapore Budget 2009: Wage Credit

Regarding the employer's CPF contribution reduction in the Budget 2009, I have coined this synomyn LPO-RPI. It means Left-Pocket-Out, Right-Pocket-In.

The budget attempts to 'save jobs' by having a wage credit for companies. Up to 12% of the first $2500 of wages will be subsidised by the government. It seems like a really innovative approach at the first glance.

I have a different take altogether. In the nutshell, nothing has changed for the common man actually.

In this wage credit, the government tops up the remaining employer's CPF contribution. This top-up amount is taken from the CPF. After topping up the employer's contribution, it goes back to you and back into your CPF account. And ultimately back into the government's hand.

Simply:
CPF (can't touch this) -> Wage Credit -> You -> CPF (can't touch this)

All in all, there is nothing to 'dip into the reserves' coz it's all transparent to you. It's like using your own money to fund yourself.

CPF is not like an account where you can withdraw at your whims and fancy. Neither were you given cash. So I do not see how the budget has helped a common man in this aspect. The only advantage it has is the employer pays less CPF contribution. How that constitutes to you saving your job is yet to be seen. I hope it does.

However this employer CPF contribution policy is also set by the government. So if companies feel the pinch, isn't it because this government's policy has created such scenario? Wouldn't it be better if the employer's CPF contribution be part of a worker's pay?

I do not want to dwell into past histories of the benefits of the CPF. There are a few angles to look at it.

Basically I do not think this Budget 2009 was impressive. One would have thought 'rainy days' might demand a more radical approach.

Let's hope I am wrong.
bxApage bxAinline

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Get out of my 'greater mortal' face!

You know, I'm all for Perm Sec Tan YS going to the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school for holidays with his family. It's his money, all 46k of them (albeit getting from tax-payers). He's entitled to spend it how he likes.

I believe the online grouse is that in times like this, the least these high-earners could do is SHUT UP. I remember a story about a bird who likes to sing but fell into some sh*t and then got eaten because it could not keep its voice down.

Exactly. Be SENSITIVE. And smart enough to know when to keep your gap shut.

So here we have Minister Teo CH rapping Perm Sec Tan for his insensitive article in Straits Times on 'damage control' mode, MP Charles Chong then decidedly and purposely(?) stepped into another landmine with his wise-crack remarks.

Of course it blew up right into his elite, uncaring face. And kinda wiped out whatever was said by Minister Teo.

Pray tell me, folks, how is this sentence:

"Get out of my elite uncaring face" - Wee Shu Min's infamous quote different from:

"Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a bit boastful. Would people have taken offence if his wife (a senior investment counsellor at a bank) had paid for everything?”- MP Charles Chong now infamous quote

Gee, our 'elite' PAP ministers seem to have an affinity for stepping onto landmines. Perhaps Vietnam might have greater use for them to clear out their minefields coz these elites can never quite get 'blown into pieces'.

Somehow they will miraculously dodge the sharpnels and come out unscathed. Then they step on another landmine and survive it. They might want to transfer this knowledge to our SAF soldiers.

Perhaps they should learn some wise words from the newly appointed US President. At least he feels 'humbled' to be in this position.

Some people think it's their God-given right to be in these ministerial positions.

I'm sorry that it had happened. Let's move on.

*grins*
bxApage bxAinline

Friday, January 16, 2009

Let there be Light!

I was listening to a sermon when the revelation about Jesus when suddenly His light hit me like a ton of bricks. It blew my finite mind beyond comprehension. It was so profound and yet simple to understand.

I saw how detailed and awesome the Word of God is - truly alive, full of Jesus footprints all over! Let me share my joy:

We know that God’s Hebrew name is Yahweh, YHWH (yodh-he-waw-he or pronounced yude-hey-vav-hey).

The term Yahweh is believed to come from these elemental root words:
  • hayah, haw-yaw’; a primitive root; to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always definite in expression or action, and not a mere verb or helper)
  • awah’, aw-waw’; a primitive root having to do with desire.
  • (Take note of this!) hawa', haw-waw'; a primitive root; supposed to mean properly, to breathe; to be (in the sense of existence).

In the beginning, Genesis says God spoke, “Let there be light!” and there was light.

“Let there be light” = haw-waw ore (Hebrew)

Did you see God’s name in those words? If you had seen it, praise God! You’ll be jumping for joy like I did! Did you notice “haw-waw” in both the sentence “Let there be light” and in the root word of Yahweh?

In fact the accurate translation should be “Let HIM be light!” Wow… isn't it awesome? And whom do you think the HIM is?

Read Colossians (bold mine)

Col 1:15 [Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation. 16 For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.
17 And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).

The first time God created was light and there Jesus was! It confirms that Jesus had a hand all along in God’s creation from the beginning! ALL things were created in Him, by Him, for Him and through Him.

God’s words coming out from His mouth is Jesus Himself because Jesus is the living Word of God. He is so powerful that when those words “Light, be!” left God’s mouth, light came into existence by the power of Christ alone.

Light is so characteristic of Jesus’ person. Light (Hebrew ‘ore’) means illumination, happiness, or even revealing, revelation. Jesus is God’s revelation, God revealing Himself. That’s why so many verses confirmed that Jesus is the Light:

  • Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
  • John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
  • Psalm 104:2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent
  • John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
  • 1 John 1:5 God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Wow…. good stuff, eh? I’m sure now with this revelation, God’s light is flooding into our every person – spirit, soul and body as we behold the beauty of Jesus.

Then another revelation followed while I was meditating on those words above. If we replace the meaning of "Let Him be light!" with the Hebrew names (haw-waw = Jesus, ore = illumine, reveal), it can also be translated as:

"Let Jesus be revealed!" and God said that in the beginning in His Word. Double wow! Let Jesus be seen in the beginning of all creation.

No wonder Jesus is the Firstborn of all creation. I used to wonder why is He the Firstborn since Adam was in fact the first person created. Now I know - the first person God revealed was actually Jesus. Totally awesome!

Everything is about Jesus in His word. He is for us to discover and enjoy. Let us continue to see the marvellous beauty of God’s Word shed in the wonderful light of Jesus. May the Holy Spirit illuminate and reveal Jesus in every word and sentence, for He is the very living Word of God.

I am so blessed and excited by this revelation.

---
Food for thought:
In science, we learn that all matters are made up of atoms. In recent breakthroughs, we have discovered that atoms now consist of protons (+ve), neutrons and electrons (-ve). Take a proton. It consists of positive particles within. Likewise negative particles for an electron.

Science says: +ve (positive) and –ve (negative) attracts each other, while similar charge repels each other.

Now it doesn’t make sense according to the theory above because all the positive particles in a proton should repel each other. In fact the proton could not have existed. But science now says an ‘unseen but very powerful force’ holds the positive particles in a proton together. They just don’t know what it is.

But we know who holds the particles together. It has been Jesus. Wow, science has no answer and it can only point to Jesus.

If God can hold the minutest particles together, I’m absolutely sure he can hold your life, your marriage, your finances and your whole person together. Be blessed!

bxApage bxAinline

Monday, January 12, 2009

No joke, I'd rather have a shoe or two thrown at me

I condemn that attack on MP Seng Han Thong. My heartfelt sympathy to him and his loved ones.

No one needs to live in fear for serving the country. Using this dastardly attack is not the way to handle issues, personal or not. It was my missus who brought this up when she read Wayang Party blogsite. She was rather shocked.

I don't know what to say. This is the second attack on him. The first one was a punch in the face by a taxi driver concerning some revoked license. I'm not sure what provoked this second attack. Until the police publishes the investigation, we'll be left wondering with this haunting question:

WHY?

Coincidental that of all the MPs, he had been assualted twice. Gee, some group must have been really 'pissed' at him! Was this the act of a person with mental health issues? Or was it an old grudge?

This attacker is 70 years old. He probably doesn't think life is worth living. Perhaps he had lost all his savings in the minibonds? Maybe he was driven up the wall, backed into a corner with nothing else to live for... I don't know.

All I can surmise is this man is probably a very, very angry man. I do not think he has mental issues since he knows where to get the kerosene, plan carefully to approach the MP from behind and then light the fire.

All I can say to President Bush is "George, you had it easy."

May MP Seng have a speedy recovery from his burns. May God watch over him and his family in this hour of need.
bxApage bxAinline

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chambermaid vs foreign maid - got difference meh?

I was thinking aloud about what our Singapore leaders have said when it hit me. It's quite baffling actually.

Here I have SM Lee justifying the obsence salaries of ministers. To drive home the point, he said a very controversial statement (more like fear mongering):

"You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again... and your asset values will disappear, your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers." - (Straits Times, 5 April 2007

Then I have PM Lee saying this recently on 8 Jan 09 at the AARP-Council: Reinventing Retirement Asia. Quote here:

"Sometimes, it is family attitudes that need to change. Let me share an example: The hotel industry needs attendants to clean rooms and change the bed linen. Older women can do such work well, and hotels are also keen to hire them. However, hotels have told us that these women tend to drop out from the training programmes, often under pressure from their children who do not want their parents to work as room attendants. So, the hotels have to hire foreign workers to fill the vacancies.

This is a delicate matter of face and status. The job of hotel attendant may be a humble one, but it is honourable employment, and if one can do it conscientiously and competently, there is no reason for the family to feel ashamed, or for society to look down on attendants or their families. We should not discourage anyone from taking on such jobs. To do so would limit his options to be active, engaged and to earn an income."

Being a maid is a shameful thing. But working as a chambermaid is not. Huh?

To bring fear, you give me a glimpse of what happens if we have a bad government. Now with recession, you encourage my grandmas, aunties and perhaps even mother to work as chambermaids.

Maybe it's because the government can no longer feed them. Or perhaps the wonderful retirement plan (ie CPF) is a ticking bomb waiting to blow up in our faces.

So this scenario begs the questions:
Am I paying millions for a bad dose of government already? If yes, why am I still paying?

Aren't the women in Singapore working as chambermaids akin to being maids in foreign countries? Is there really a difference then?

Of course, a chambermaid does not look after your kids or stay with you. But both are earning an income decently. Both pack up after the occupants leave the place.

So there aren't many differences, don't you agree?

Let's move further on the 'maid in foreign country' topic to prove my point.

What happens if a foreign country is willing to pay you a higher salary to be a chambermaid for their hotel? Are you considered a talent, or just a maid working in a foreign country?

You see the line blurs significantly. But with these contradicting statements and controversial claims from my million-dollar ministers, it's just black and white to justify their policies. One day black, the next day white.

No wonder PM Lee had mentioned that not many could understand and grasp the policies. I reckon only those bordering on mental insanity might still have a faint hope.

Then what is so different between working as a chambermaid and a maid in a foreign country?

The answer is basically nothing. Wherever pays more.

My advice to these million-dollars minister confusing me is perhaps Singapore can no longer pay your salaries. Perhaps you should move to where you will be paid higher.

And be the first Singaporean minister working in a foreign country.
bxApage bxAinline

Friday, January 09, 2009

Take your pick: Do the twist or kangaroo hop?

Gee, I like kangaroos but I think it's gonna get the ban in Singapore.

After reading this article, you'll probably be hopping 'mad' with:
  • Apathy...if you are Singaporean
  • Glee ...if you are from the incumbent party in Singapore
  • Anger ...if you are a Singaporean Opposition member
  • Disbelief ...if you are a just and upright judge or person
  • Laughter ...if you are from a democratic nation in the West
AG Walter Woon says, “When discussion of a court’s judgments becomes an attack on a judge or the judiciary, then the law of contempt of court steps in.”

Does that statement sound like a threat to you, to put so much fear into you that you'll never question the judgement?

I'll do the twist anytime then.
bxApage bxAinline