Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't provide us with more ammunition

These days PAP seems to provide free ammunition for the opposition, netizens, online community and bloggers. The more they try, the worse it seems. Many of us have to work, mind you. We can't keep on blogging.

We are having a field day online seriously. I have never seen so many online postings. Go check out the 'Other Reads' links on my right.

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PAP supporters I know are now questioning the policies implemented since the last two elections (eg, GST increase, transport hikes, foreign talent policy). They are also mocking the quality of the new candidates (seriously Tin Pei Ling, Chua Chun Sing anyone?) and are baffled by the demeaning words of their Ministers and MPs. Now our PM Lee dishes out the old trick of fear-mongering.

One thing is certain - PAP is no longer the people's choice. Allow me to analyse a few examples.

#1
PM Lee: No by-election if PAP loses a GRC (Read Straits Times here)

IF A GRC is lost at the May 7 General Election - and a Minister along with it - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not plan to call a by-election to try and get him elected and back into government, he told the Lianhe Zaobao Chinese daily.

'Elections are a serious thing,' he said in an interview published on Tuesday 'The voters have decided, and we will accept the voters' decision.'

He added that voters, too, would have to live with the consequences of their choice to turf a Minister out.

'There are no safety nets in real life. So it's best not to take the risk.'
It is the sole reason that an election is serious thing that we have now more opposition candidates of high calibre and better credentials. Some of whom were high-flyers in the civil service.

It has got little to do with what you and your ministers claim that Singapore has increased in educational level and her people are more widely travelled. Why do you deceive yourself? If that is so, you would have attracted them into your party. Perhaps many have travelled widely enough to know they have been led by their noses all along.

All due respect, sir, your leadership and party had time to change. You guys didn't. Even up to this last last juncture, your party is still in denial.

Simply put, we have had enough. Singaporeans have given you grace time and again to prove yourselves deserving to lead us. For the past 10 years you must admit it has been disappointing, global financial issues not-withstanding. All except for Dr Lily Neo whom I have heard so much of her graciousness and I give utmost respect.

With this article you used the dirty trick of 'no safety nets' fear-mongering to prey on the weak-minded - rehashing and reminding your very own people with the spectre of near failures in history to cripple us.

Is that the way forward to a 'thinking society' and treating us like babies? It is very much akin to a mother of old generation telling her son not to go near the water else he drowns.

It stops here, sir. The new media of the internet and online forums reaches many. Readers challenge the norm and demand answers. Yet one by one, your ministers choose to ignore the sentiments on the ground. It is so childish to disable 'comments' and 'dislikes' in their Facebook accounts and yet your manifesto claims open feedback and discussions.

This is how far you have fallen behind.

By the way, pray tell me what 'safety nets' do we as Singaporeans have? By voting in the opposition to challenge your policies, my countrymen and I daresay we stand a better chance of having a 'safety net' for us.

#2

'It's not as simple as waving a wand' - DPM Wong Kan Seng on solving the issues of housing, immigration

Singapore - It is not such "a simple thing as waving a wand" at hot issues like the cost of living, housing and immigration, hoping they will simply disappear.

The measures introduced by the People's Action Party (PAP) Government need time to take effect, said Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng.

(read Today full article)
Who created the housing bubble? Who invited foreigners and opened the floodgates for mass migration? Who lacked the foresight to address sky-rocket housing? Who told us housing is still 'affordable'?

Who raised GST? Who promised us Swiss standard of living? Who could have reduced inflation? Who lost billions in investments? Who rewarded themselves with a hefty pay increase and bonuses?

You and your party members did.

You created the mess, now go fix it. Wave your magic wand and make them disappear. You had two terms of a decade (which is a mighty long time in my opinion) to perform your miracle-working wonders, of which I had yet to see any progress. And you gave us half-baked answers and poor accountability to the disappearance of a limping terrorist.

Indeed it is not as simple as waving a wand. Hence we are paying you millions to fix it.

Now you asking us to be sympathetic to your cause, to give you time and ask for my vote. With impending loss at your front door, you now know hollow your words of promises sound. I'll tell you truthfully what will disappear - your millions in salary when you lose your seat and your minister post.

Time is not on your side unfortunately.

(part two coming soon)
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Friday, April 22, 2011

You know you are second-class citizens when...

...my Prime Minister gives credit to foreign workers instead of locals. I was peeved by this sentence when I read his speech during the opening ceremony of IMFlash, a high-tech electronic plant (read here).

"For every one foreign worker, we have created 1.5 local jobs in this project" Should it not be "For every 1.5 locals, one foreigner has a job"?

You, sir, have put the cart before the horse. And that shows a lot about your respect for our citizens. You have no respect and bonding kinship with us. No wonder people lamented that PAP is totally 'disconnected' from the ground.

I have noted that you failed to distinguish how many Singaporeans are actually employed

"Six in 10 of the employees are 'Singaporeans and permanent residents'. Singapore residents also take up two-thirds of the managerial and professional positions," PM Lee mentioned.

Actual Singaporean employees
Out of the six in 10 employees, can we know how many are Singapore citizens? Let me do a minor analysis and hypothetical worst-case scenario:

- Out of 10 employees, 4 are foreigners who holds work permits. That leaves 6 Singaporeans and PRs.
- Out of 6 employees, 1 is a Singaporean while the other 5 are PRs.

But why did I take the worst-case scenario? Because PAP has often hidden the numbers and twist it around to paint a different picture. Just like the media braying that the casinos created 25,000 jobs. How many were given to locals, that is the question.

If 5 out of the 6 employees in IMFlash are Singaporeans or within the company half of the employees (5 out of 10) are citizens, you can bet your bottom dollar that PAP would not want you to miss it even if you close your eyes and cover your ears. They would have crowed and glaringly highlighted it to the tune of "Investment helps create jobs for locals - five out of 10 jobs clinched by Singaporeans".

Singapore residents
Again the second part of his sentence "Singapore residents take up two-thirds of the managerial and professional positions" throws us a curved-ball.

Who are the 'Singapore residents'? Anyone who is a local, PR and one holding a work visa or 'S' pass. And I can assuredly say that most are filled in by foreigners consisting of PRs and temporary residents.

I have no qualms if foreigners come into my country when locals cannot fill the job or special expertise and skills are required.

But when my PM has to hide the details, you know you have been 'second-classed'.
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Friday, April 15, 2011

A mystery unto itself - advice to young readers

Let me share with you, especially to the young readers. This is a real scenario. If you are a Singaporean, you might want to chew on this:

Many Singaporeans I know who had left Singapore to work overseas in Western countries (Australia, US, etc) took huge pay cuts. Some were paid less than 50% of their previous salaries. One of the main reasons cited by the recruitment firms and potential employers was that they did not have enough local experience. I am sharing from my interviewing experience when I migrated to Australia. Though I did not have a pay cut, I knew many did.

Yet many foreign talents (FTs), especially from Western countries, are 'invited' to come into Singapore, attracted by huge salaries plus perks. From a recent newspaper article, many of these FTs (it stated >75% of them) have annual packages of  >$180,000SGD. I have even read of one FT with a banking experience of 1+year taking a $7000SGD monthly plus perks, a tidy sum which Singaporeans may take 5-10 years to earn a similar amount.

I want to reiterate - I have nothing against FTs. However does this chap have any local experience?

Our FT policies treat them as if they are 'gold', bringing in so-called wealth of knowledge and skills enough to pay them so much more over. I am no sour grapes but I cringed paying someone so high with hardly any banking experience and worse - not even having local knowledge. I have also met highly-skilled and absolutely wonderful FT individuals in Singapore too.

One thing I don't understand -

Isn't hiring FTs meant keep Singapore cost competitive as often brayed by my ministers? We were told that if we keep asking for higher salaries, we would be edged out of competition by emerging countries like Philippines, India and Vietnam. I remember then PM Goh Chok Tong sharing that ONE Singaporean IT project manager can equate hiring 3-4 project managers from India. Then I wrote to Straits Times (ST) that with his pay of millions, I could have 3 Clinton presidents of much better calibre than any of my ministers. Of course my article wasn't published. And the truth is now project managers from India are not that cost effective. They do command a higher salary these days.

So who got the brunt of his words? I think many believed him and subconsciously put a cap to how much they are worth these days in fear of losing their jobs. I reckon many were hood-winked when the PAP started embracing FT policies. These local people swallowed the bait, line, sinker and fisherman. And his boots too because these ministers pay themselves exorbitant salaries claiming that they are highly sought after in the private sectors. Seriously give me a break!

Locals who went National Service and gave up two years of their prime youth to their country (mine was two and half years of NS, mind you!), studied in our so-called highly sought-after NUS/NTU, strived to make a decent graduate living at starting salaries of $2000-$2,300SGD monthly, and tried to support a family are now thumbed down and disadvantaged by these foreign talents who have no local experience whatsoever. These FTs took up job opportunities who could be filled by locals and also commanded a better pay many times over.

Why would any locals want to live in Singapore? I have never heard of any recruitment firms in Singapore telling an FT that he has to take a lower pay because he does not have local experience. Is this FT chap smarter, more productive or has he clocked more hours? Maybe but I doubt so.

I feel for you, young generation, coming out to work with your degrees and looking wide-eyed with hope and ambition to make it proud in Singapore. I empathise even more so for the next generation.

Unless you make yourself more marketable by going overseas to work for experience (yet maybe taking an intial pay cut but still gaining much more in experience) and come back as an FT, or perhaps emigrate to another country and live, it will be quite a challenge. Seriously.

I balked when my Minister Mah Bow Tan shared a vision of 6.5 million population in Singapore. With the stress and pressure to compete academically with FTs invited by the our government, doing NS and reservists but not compulsory to FTs (again!), and graduating and competing jobs with FTs (yet again!) and being edged out, I think you may have it going tough. I have just been to Japan. I admire them for keeping their Japanese people and culture and employing FTs where and when necessary.

So while young, spirited and without family commitments, grab opportunities that offer to work outside of Singapore. Look, feel, see and live life. Experience what it is like to be in another country, another environment. Not all is perfect I must warn you but one thing you have which I have lamented when in Singapore is -

Having an option and a choice.

This is often much lacking in Singapore. Be it in the music or arts, academic or trader work, excel in your passion. Even if you fail, there is a still a choice how you want your life to be.

In Singapore, it may well be like a caged hamster wheel as coined by Insane Polygon so aptly (link here).

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On a separate note, reading these recent quotations published in MSM (mainstream media) make me want to puke!

When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one came back to thank him." - Lim Boon Heng, commenting that being an MP is a thankless job.
Verily, verily, Jesus did not did not ask for millions, He just healed them all. For free. Can you?

"They have full rights to participate in the debate, all debates. They can argue, they can establish themselves and they belong to political parties. These are not independents,’ - PM Lee Hsien Loong on NCMP scheme to ensure ‘opposition’ voices in parliament.
Right... if they can debate and shout till the cows come home but not have a single vote to action our voices in parliament, what are they there for again? I feel you are treating us with this contemptous "yeah, I'm listening but no thanks" attitude again. One which I detest very much.

"So if you think there is groupthink, that is one example you can quote – there is no groupthink." - Lim Boon Heng, who also had to toe the party line when he disagreed with some polices.
No 'groupthink'? Indeed, and there is no 'whitehorse' either. All figments of our imaginations. Minister, sir, you had the opportunity to stand up and make a difference. You didn't.

"Two-party system not workable here" - PM Lee, who had to spend time and effort to 'fix' the opposition in parliament.
We must be the most uniquely democratic country in the world. But it sure sounds eerily familiar to a dictator speaking in my humble opinion.
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