Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Extraordinary' rainfall ? Really ?

So now MM has to step forward to try to convince the public to accept another lame excuse - 'extraordinary' rainfall.

Sorry,MM, we are don't buy this one either. It is just a another word to replace :
- once in 50 years
- freak
- unstable weather
- debris
-......etc, etc

It is human fault and NOTHING to do with Mother Nature.

Likely it is the barrage itself couple with drainage management issues and even direct human error. PUB already acknowledge it is due to undercapcity drainage system. If it is so, why is it under design ? This is one of the most serious mistake and very costly too. More tax payers' money needs to pump in for corrective action. How can we be assure they can get it right this time?

This is what happen when number one comes out with what he thought is a great idea, no one dares oppose him. So millions spent on another S'pore iconic project to constuct the barrage. Likely the barrage is one of the teething problems causing the recent series of floods.

Must save face at all cost, let the truth be hidden. Continue using different words to blame Mother Nature.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Risky Spa

"It helps consumers determine which companies are less risky to sign up with" said an executive being interviewed, regarding compulsory insurance scheme for accredited spa operators.

So signing up for spa package is a risky undertaking. First it is housing agents cheating clients, then private education industry running off with students' money. Now it is the spa industry.

Are we becoming a country full of con men/women ?

How stupid and cruel can one get

An advertising agency in Russian came out with this stupid and cruel idea of parachuting a donkey down as their promotion gimmick to popularize a beach resort as a holiday destination.

The donkey was screeching in fear all the way down and nearly drown upon landing. It is so cruel to traumatize the poor animal. This is advertising idea at its worst.

It also send shock wave to those holiday makers at the beach. Children were crying in fear hearing the heart rending screams of the donkey. Any pleasant memory of the beach is shattered forever.

How stupid and cruel some people can be.

Car Buffet

Folks are paying more than $10K just to have a 'car buffet' - being able to drive a fleet of luxury cars consisting of Lamborghini, Bentley, after another for a day.

I suppose if you cannot own one, it is another way of getting to sit in them for a while if you don't mind the $10k

Construction of more cycling paths

Millions will be pour into the construction of more cycling paths. Perhaps this is because our public transport system is to heavily tax that the government is desperate to look into any alternative that comes to mind.

How to cycle all over when S'pore weather is so hot and humid? It will defeat the green movement if we save on energy but jack up water consumption.

Even should we do cycle to work, we will be sticky and sweaty. This is not a conducive condition to start the day. So will the govt be encouraging companies to provide bathing facilities for staff?

Are they leading by example by providing such facilities at all their ministries? Will they be actively encouraging those in civil service to cycle to work?

Could our ministers and MPs also lead by examples by forgoing their private cars and take to cycling during cabinet meetings?

Likely this million dollar project will promote cycling as sport and form of exercise, but will not be successful as an alternative solution to our pubic transportation woes. Even if taken as a form of exercise, there are only certain hours suitable for cycling. Try doing it under the blazing sun, one may end up with heat stroke or higher probability of skin cancer.

Will we be ever told the truth ?

We need external auditors and/or consultant to get to the root cause of the flood incidents. PUB and the govt have lost their credibililty as they have been giving lame excuses and half truth over the matter. It is easily to make sweeping statement like it has nothing to do with the barrage. Where is the supporting evidence ?

If the Marine Barrage is the cause of the flood, it will be too embarrassing for them and unlikely we will ever get wind about it. After all it is one of the latest 'show case' of our nation, costing millions.

Now our Minister is blaming it on the 'unstable' weather. Likely he has never heard of the saying : Unpredictable as the weather. What is the purpose of planning and designing for redundancy if our relatively new drainage system is found to be under capacity ? Who is the govt body approving the design of the drainage system ?

Investigation is getting to all the root causes of the matter. It is not about coming up with more excuses and trying to point fingers in another direction to distract from being accountable and responsible.

PUB will be installing more flood sensors to give early warning. But exactly how much time people have for flood preparation is not mention. What is the purpose of all these sensors if the preparation time is not sufficient ?

Besides, flood warning system is not preventive measure - it is reactive. Having more sensors may result in more false alarms. When people hear the cry of wolves too often, they may not react when the real wolves come.

It will also jack up maintenance cost. Should there be frequent false alarm, it could cause public inconvenient. Low standard of investigation done will only result in inefficiency and ineffectiveness when addressing the flood problem, as the root causes are not address.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PUB eating their own words

The official reason given by PUB for the flood in Orchard road was clogged drains due to littering. Then our PM parroted this 'excuse' when making his long delay official statement on the event, which eroded his credibility.

Now PUB does a reverse turn and said that debris only "worsened the flood but did not cause it''. So they finally realize that the public is not buying into their lame excuses. Besides, it reflects their foolishness in making such a statement which gets another govt agency into deep shit. If there is so much accumulation of debris, then NEA officers must be sleeping on their job. PUB has actually redirected the blame to NEA, which is the environmental enforcement agency. Well, we can only guess what happen behind the scene, NEA and PUB 'fighting' amongst themselves.

PUB now puts the blame on the canals not having enough capacity to drain all the water. Why don't they be upfront and say it is under designed instead ? Just beating around the bushes to avoid accountability.

Should it have been a building that is under designed for its load carrying capacity, it would have collapse. The consequences could be very serious.

Under designed of any public infrastructure or facilities should be investigated. It cost millions to construct them and now millions more needed to 'improve' them. Is not our drainage system at Orchard area relatively new ?

The flood in Orchard road has cause massive losses to businesses. S'poreans are so 'tame'. Those folks who have suffered financial losses should have group together to sue the government.

Only then will serious investigation into the root cause(s) be done and the public could have a glimpse into the true facts reveal at the court hearing. If not, all we will ever hear is what they choose to reveal to us.

Another FIRST for S'pore - Death by Hanging

S'pore govt loves to be 1st in everything. So now we are number one in terms of the highest per capital execution rates in the WORLD ! Sigh...

Yes, those who committed serious crime need to be punished. But life imprisonment would be a better option. Let those who have committed unforgivable crime have a life time to reflect on their wrong doing and hopefully contribute back to society while serving their life sentences.

Execution carries the danger that should a mistake be made, any injustice done will be irreversible as the person has been put to death. We know that it does happen.

Besides death by hanging is so barbaric. Lethal injection has been used in other parts of the world. Why is S'pore still hanging prisoners ? Is it because it is the cheapest method or they are so lazy to change the law ?

An executioner at Changi Prison said he has executed around 1000 men from 1959 to 2006 ! I wonder how a person could live with so many lives ended at his hands. Perhaps he gets immunized against it after being on the job for sometime ? Or perhaps the order to kill is from the authority and so he is just following orders, and this relieves him of emotional burden.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Peace Loving Feline

They said neutralized tom cats are not so aggressive. But from my observation, some tom cats are just 'peace loving' even though they are not sterilized.

They are 'wise' as they have found out the secret of happiness - that living in harmony with other felines is better than fighting it out either for territory or tabby cats. It is not that they are weak, it is their peace loving nature. Even their facial features reflect a 'sea of calmness'.

On the other hand, those aggressive tom cats never look good. They either have fierce feature, started or haggard look. They normally have wounds and scars. Those which have been losing feline battles look real pathetic and seems to have lost all their cat confident. I have seen one over the hill tom cat with battle scars that was 'told off' by a youngest just coming out of its 'kittenhood'.

There is this large stray tom which would let another stray eat its food. Even when the other cat behave aggressively ....he just calming walk away. But the aggressor was not satisfied and continued its attack. Well, Mr Calm turned around utter a loud warning, rush forward ....Mr Aggressor fled for dear life. Mr Calm did not fight but he is imposing in his own way when pushed to his limit.

I have a tom cat (used to be a stray). He is 10 years old, consider a ripe old age for a feline. He has never been involved in a fight. He still looks pretty good compare to those aggressive stray toms which are much younger than him. You might say he is a pet, so it is not fair to compare him with a stray. But then our Mr Calm is a stray cat. In fact, Mr Calm is one of the most dignify and confident strays I ever come across. Nothing seems to ruffle his feather, I mean fur.

So if we want to be happy and look good, be peace loving and calm. Aggression does not resolve issue but likely create more problems. Just like what Gandhi said : An eye for an eye, only leads to the world of the blind.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Inconsiderate Tenant

My current tenant is nightmare. She is so bad temper that the last straw came when she threatened to punch my mother who is in her seventies. I told her to move out by end of the month.

She has been with us for only 6 months and it has been worrying time for my family. She is a walking safety and security hazard. When she bathes or does any washing in the toilet, the kitchen floor is also wet. There are times it is literally 'flooded' with water and we could not figure out how it could happen. This is because we have place mats and rags outside the bathroom to 'trap' water. Slippery wet floor is a hazard for my elderly mum. We try explaining to her to mop up if she wet the floor and this started her unhappiness as she seems to take feedback personally.

She will leave electric appliances such as heater, fan....still switch on when she leaves for work for the day. Domestic appliances, unlike industrial equipment are not meant for continuous heavy usage. It can overheat and start a fire. If one is unlucky, the electrical switch breaker may not activate and we know fire is merciless.

Then main door is left openned - not sure if it is intentional or forgetfulness. Now we are so worry we make sure someone is at home if not we will have house break-in with such a tenant.

There has never been any issue with my previous tenants who are considerate. They were with us much longer and moved out to be nearer to their work place or share a room with their friends/relative. This is the first time I have asked a tenant to leave.

My previous tenants and my mum got along fine. Mum enjoyed pampering them with her home brew soup and food. I suppose it basically boils down to common sense and consideration when living under the same roof. Simple thing like if you mess up, you clean up. She can leave toothpaste and shampoo stains all over the bath room. They are not only unsightly strains but also slippery hazard.

Initially we give her the benefit of doubt that it could be unintentional forgetfulness. But when her messy and unsafe acts keep up its flow, it is the act of an inconsiderate person who could not understand the impact of her actions on others.

At first my mum would quietly 'pick up' after her. But there is a limit to all these and she began to feedback to her what she has done, hoping things could improve for the better.

Sigh ..this only started her door slamming session. And then this morning, she wanted to punch my mum when mum told her she has left the heater switch on again. Sigh....A woman in her late twenties, still so immature and lack of self control.

Unlike my previous tenants who are normally in after work and during the weekends, this aggressive one is seldom in. But her water usage is consistently exceptionally high, our monthly water consumption has ballooned to 4 times after she moved in. It has not happened before with previous tenants and we thought there is something wrong with the water meter. Then we realize it is due to her habit of turning the surrounding into swimming pool whenever she does her chores. This solves the mystery of the 'flooded' kitchen and high water usage.

It will be a relief when she moves out. I would need to do careful screening of potential tenant in the future. There are personality questionnaires for job application candidates. Wonder if anyone has designed one for tenant selection. It would be useful to sieve out walking time bomb before they move in and become a nightmare.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cat , Butterfly and Mosquitoes

I saw a cute tabby at the void deck. Just as I was stroking it, it freezed, stared hard at something in the distant...and then dash off. It spotted a 'prey'. It was a white butterfly fluttering very close to the ground.

The tabby caught it and was rolling on the ground with it in a playful mood. When I went nearer, it left its prey and went about grooming itself.

It has been years since I saw a butterfly in HDB estate. This is after NEA started they frequent insecticide spraying exercise to eliminate dengue mosquitoes. They managed to eliminate all other 'useful' insects but not the harmful mosquitoes. In fact, they indirectly help in the creation a 'stronger' species of mosquitoes which are more resilient to insecticide.

They have since realised their mistaken in taking a short cut easy approach to dengue management control. Lucky for us, as who knows what will happen to our lungs and health with so frequent exposure to poisonous fume if they had continued with their spraying.

The insecticide spray was so intense and heavy that it penetrated the upper floors even though it was done at ground level. I am staying on the ninth floor, but whenever they did the spraying, I had to close all the windows in order to prevent choking on the fume.

...Back to the white butterfly. I have never seen a totally white butterfly before. Normally they are coloured. Likely it was already injured before being caught by the tabby. It was hovering at floor level which made it easy for the cat to catch it.

The poor butterfly had its wings torn and could hardly lift itself up from the ground. I knew what I should do in order not to prolong its suffering from an ultimate slow death which awaited it. But it is hard to terminate something that looked so pure, fragile and harmless. I did it anyway. I rather feel guilty and uneasy than avoid doing the right thing. I have wrote about euthanasia in my previous blog.

Now back to the cat. We cannot blame it. It is just doing what comes naturally - hunting its prey. Well, folks have been accusing stray cats of not 'earning' its keep (wonder since when a stray needs to earn its keep ? It is a stray after all, who is keeping it?). They said strays are so well fed that they do not hunt rats. These folks never care for the strays, how did they know how much the cats eat ?

Just because they see rats around, it does not mean the strays do not hunt them. We have a police force, but there are still criminals around. So does it mean our police officers are not doing their job ? Besides, it is NEA and Town Council responsibility to eliminate rats. They have so many advance pest control equipment, if they can't do it, why blame the strays?

Rats exist because of food - litters left by human. Rats don't exist because strays are not catching them. So we human has to clean up our act instead of blaming the cats.

Cats natural instinct is to hunt. They may not eat their prey, but they will still hunt. Just like the tabby I saw.

Betting on an Octopus prediction

Looks like soccer fans are going nuts. They are looking towards an octopus, named Oracle to tell them which team / country is winning the next match.

If Oracle chooses the container of food which has their favourite team flag on it, they are in jubilation and Oracle could look forward to more meaty dinner as reward.

Sadly, through no fault of our poor octopus, if he chooses to eat from the 'wrong' container, his fate is precarious, as unhappy fans wanted him for their dinner instead.

This just shows people want to 'hear' what they like. Makes no different even if it is coming from an octopus.


I heard this joke ... likely it carries some truth in it, that any company stock Temasek buys into, we better do the reverse and sell it off, if we have it.

Looks like Temasek disastrous investment losses in recent years have left its mark on ordinary citizens.

It is reported in the papers that Temasek net profit fell 26%, while its portfolio value hit 186 million. It is currently aggressively investing in high risk areas, such as mining business. Looks like it has not learn its lesson inspite of the massive losses.

In the same article, its executive director claims that Temasek is a long term investor and does not enter and exit markets the way a fund does. Long term investor and not a fund? Is not Temasek together with GIC is S'pore's sovereign wealth fund (SWF)? Temasek actions do not support its claims. It has invested in trouble financial institutions giving the reason that it is looking at long term future of those companies. However, within a short period of time, Temasek let go of them like hot potatoes just when valuation was picking up. Temasek has been widely criticised for its poor investment strategy and timing. Besides, there has been no accountability over the whole incident from its CEO, Ho Chin.

As Temasek is one of the investment arms of the country's public fund, should not it be more cautious, especially after the painful losses ? The public is looking for consistent and sustainable returns on public money used in investment. Not excessive risk taking for sky rocket profit and the next moment chalking up billions in losses which wipe out previous years gains.

It is also reported that Temasek is not actively searching for a new CEO to replace Ho Chin. Why ?

In fact the mystery as to the real reason behind the sudden departure of the previous CEO Mr Charles Goodyear has never been resolved. Likely it wishes to avoid another similar situation. You can get away once from explaining the exit of a high profile CEO, but not twice.

After all Temasek's company investment policies and operation are not that transparent. It would unlikely welcome in depth queries in their 'history' and would prefer any new comer to accept things just as they are.

Look at the fate of Chartered Semiconductor which is under Temasek Holding. It used to be a blue chip company listed. Once upon a time it was one of the hot favourite shares being traded. After all most folks think nothing serious could happen to a blue chip share which had large capitalisation. The common perception is : Temasek = government = trust. Well, blind trust could be dangerous as Chartered Semiconductor has been delisted and no longer in existence.

Temasek action speaks for itself.

Visibility vs Charity

The YOG budget overshot by 3 times, from $104 million to $387 million. Again do not expect any accountability for such poor budgeting and overspending by the Minister concerned. Lack of accountability seems to be the current trend.

The public response to YOG event has been cold and it is unlikely that the event could ever recoup the heavy expenses spend on it. Seems like MOE is the main buyer of the event tickets.

Comcare's budget in contrast is only a mere $98 million, a quarter's of YOG.

It is obvious that visibility is more important than charity for our government. Is it any surprise ? Hardly...sigh...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is a future population of 6 million realistic ?

We are at aroud 4.5 million and our public infrastrutures are already busting at the seams. How realistic is it to have a future population of 6 million ?

Our goverment forecast has been way off mark in first telling us we will be overpopulated during the 1970s. Then within the same generation - we find ourselves underpopulated and need mass import of non-locals to make up for the numbers.

What happen if they are wrong again ?

Even Australia with its large land mass and natural resources is reviewing it policy to ensure a sustainable population.

It is time our government take a good look at what is happening at ground level and don't bull doze ahead to another disaster.

Cheaper Transport Fare , really ?

There has been alot of publicity that the revamp in the public transport fare based on distance travelled will result in saving from many. Again this is another window dressing exercise whereby the public is told partial truth. It is in fact another fare increase in disguise.

For unbiaise reporting on this issue, Mr Leng Sze Hian's article provides a clear picture of how the public has been 'taken for a ride'.

The fare structure is so complicate, it is hard to understand, it only creates confusion. Simplicity is beauty beside being efficient. Any policy targeted at the masses should be easy to understand.

But this is never the case for us. Look at our taxi fare structure - so many surcharges. Then our CPF scheme -getting more complicated over the years. Even the recent CFP Life scheme is so messy that they need forum after forum to explain it to the public.

It is reported that Tiger Airway is considering having standing support for passangers so that they could charge cheaper air fare. Well, seats have been removed from our trains and buses, but there is no reduction in fare.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Is Our Crowded Trains Safe ?

It is unacceptable for the CEO of SMRT to acknowledge that she knew the trains are overcrowded but not do anything because they have not reached the stage where SMRT needs to employ 'pushers' or 'crush load' level.

This is not the way a socially responsible organisation is run. We do not wait till problem araises before acting. Overcrowding is a safety hazard by itself. Even a minor incident can result in a stampede in overcrowded places. We have seen in happening at football stadium, religious place of worship like Mecca....

We know there is a safe passenger load for all vehicles. What is the safe passenger load for the trains and has it been exceeded ?

It is as clear as daylight that our train stations and trains are under capacity to serve the exploding population. We know there is a limit to the increase frequency of train arrival without compromising safety. Besides even if they can do it, it will create another set of problem as the passagers cannot clear the platform and station in time before the arrival of the next train.

I have seen it happening even during off peak hours. Passengers were still crowding around the platform escalators to make their exit from the station and the next train arrived.

It is time SMRT CEO highlight this to the parliment that there is a need to start planning for an overhaul of the train infrastrature now. This is the least she can do as head of an organisation responsible for public transport.