Monday, October 20, 2014

The Air Still Stinks

The three hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading hit 113 at 3pm on Sunday. A better index of the deteriorating situation is the number of people suddenly developing dry coughs, no thanks to breathing in ash content of the free smoke from down south. Maybe it's time for the expensive messenger boy to hand carry another large white envelope to Indonesia. Preferably filled with cash incentive to do something about the forest fires. If the gutter politician can blow hundreds of millions on a kiddie version of the Olympics, he can surely cough up the money for our health's sake.

Whether he gets an invite to join the world leaders who are attending president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's   inauguration party on October 20th is another matter. Blowing $387 million is rather hard to forget, especially when the initial YOG budget was $104 million. And there's that miscellaneous charge of $79.8 million for "Other Costs" that has yet to be explained to the public.

If smoke continues to get into our eyes, year after year, it would be an utter waste of public funds for Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong to splurge more millions on his plans for developing the Jurong Lake District. Latter starts with physically combining existing Jurong Lake Park, Japanese and Chinese Gardens which, on their own,  are already three areas already too polluted for outdoor activities. Joining them as one big arena for sucking in bad air is definitely no improvement for our health. Better to build a large dome and aircondition it, like they did at Marina Bay Gardens. Just make sure there's sufficient natural light let in for the grass to grow. Even Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the pandas from PRC, have an airconditioned outdoor frolicking area of their own. Of course it's not going to happen, only foreigners get special deals.
just the thing for prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rat Infestation

Chairman of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is opposition MP Sylvia Lim, who faces a potential fine of $1000 for organising the Lunar New Year Flora and Community Fair 2014 from Jan 9 to Jan 30 this year. AHPETC's lawyer Peter Low pointed out that it was a “mini-fair” or an “event”, and hence did not require a permit. Although Low is unlikely to over invoice for his services like PAP MP Alvin Yeo did in the Susan Lim case, the court charges will surely exceed the thousand bucks easily. Why bother, you may ask.

Low showed the court a revised trade fair application form dated July 2008, which states “only grassroots organisations, town councils and charitable, civic, educational, religious or social institutions are allowed to hold fairs”. But the forms the AHPETC received last December did not have the crucial words “town councils”.

Low asked when and why the change was made. Mr Tan objected, saying it was irrelevant as the issue before the court is whether the event needed a permit. We, the people of Singapore, would also like to object: How is it the change was conveniently incurred within a month (Dec - Jan)? And who makes those changes anyway?

In parliament on Tuesday 7 Oct, same Sylvia Lim also asked about another convenient change, specifically why an option to inform others when applying for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) was removed from the form just last month, when Yang Yin's grand scheme was finally unfolding in the mainstream media. The answer from Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing stating that the current LPA scheme has adequate safeguards was far from satisfactory. Especially when an 87-year-old Singaporean widow stands to lose her $40 million worth of assets to a dubious character from the PRC because of the mere stroke of a pen.

The resident who wrote to MP for Bukit Panjang and Mayor for North West District Teo Ho Pin to complain about rat infestation at his estate finally got his template response: not my problem, officer XXX will be looking into issue shortly. Meanwhile the rats are having a field day, doing what rats do, spreading havoc to the environment. No wonder there are so many rats in the system.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Career Moves

Tongues are a wagging at the surprise move of top cop Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee to a watered down appointment as head of National Water Agency PUB. Why make the announcement now when he will be Chief Executive of PUB only in January 2015? Maybe it has to do with the interrupted holiday when Little India burst into flames, and the intervening months will be a good time to, say, sign up for a pastry course in France. After the excitement of law enforcement, managing once-in-50-year events must be a boring prospective.

With all the ongoing concerns about national security, one wonders if it is prudent to let the jihadist wannabes know that the highest ranked officer of the police force is playing musical chairs. Ng was Director of the Singapore Prisons Service from 2007 to 2009. 27 February 2008 was the day that Mas Selamat chose to take a leak and then led the police on a wild goose chase. Ng was appointed as Commissioner of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 2010. 8 December 2013 was the night when the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India was set ablaze and turned into a battle zone. Some other loose ends during his tenure may never see the light of day: Dinesh Raman's death by positional asphyxiation (silenced by settlement), Shane Todd's weird suicide account (challenged by parents).

All that will soon be water under the bridge. Ng is a recipient of the SPF Overseas Scholarship. Under our system of meritocracy, scholars are never seen to fail in their assignments. They just mosey from one cushy job to another, immune from the threat of competitive foreign talents from abroad. Ng's predecessor, Chew Men Leong, stepped down as Chief Executive of the Public Utilities Board on September 30, only to be made Chief Executive of the Land Transport Authority. Ex-Rear Admiral Chew was awarded the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship in 1987, and made Chief of the Republic of Singapore Navy from 2007–2011.

Ng will be remembered for his unsolicited commentary on a fellow ex-law enforcer. "Boon Gay has been found not guilty... but certainly his acts are reprehensible," he said, "He has broken every one of our values and he has tainted the whole police force by his behavior and that is very disappointing." Never mind that in January 2012, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong had said of former Central Narcotics Bureau Director Ng Boon Gay, "If he did wrong, he must be punished; if he did nothing wrong, he must be exonerated." See what happens if you don't go with the flow?
Water as a cooling off agent

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ought To Be Shot

“synthetic (imported) is higher than the natural (home grown)”
When World Champion Lewis Hamilton complained that the Singapore Grand Prix track was excessively bumpy, they moved heaven and earth make it right. And when Hamilton said the modification to reduce the harsh kerbs at the chicane at turn 10 of the street circuit made it even more dangerous, calling the complex "the worst corner in F1", officials quickly replaced it with a left turn, faster than you can say "ang moh tua kee".

So when Brazil coach Dunga threatened to prevent the likes of millionaire superstar Neymar from injuring himself on the patchy and sandy field of the $1 billion National Stadium, the finger pointing started in earnest. "The field here is not very good. Most of it is sand and not grass. There is more chance of getting injured on this field."

The $860,000 Desso Grassmaster system utilised by the pitch combines artificial fibres and natural grass, but Dunga observed that the “synthetic is higher than the natural”. The criticism was not new, our national football team had bitched about the pitch too, but who listens to them?

Surprisingly, in a rare act of nobility, Sports Hub Private Limited (SHPL) chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik took the self administered bullet, "With regard to the state of the pitch, yes we ought to be shot." Sport Singapore (SportSG) has blamed the sorry state of the playing field on a packed events calendar. In defence, Oon insisted local artiste Stephanie Sun's concert deserved to be the first to use it, and the Chinese Orchestral was more about community than commercial interests, rubbishing accusations of profits over sports. He should have stopped there. Instead, his candor ran over, confessing that they hosted the National Schools C Division rugby match even though it would damage the field:"... I would rather do that than damage the hearts of the 13- and 14-year-olds, who will be the users of our Sports Hub for a long time to come."

The speed of the remedial action is yet to be determined, but they better move fast, as the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup Group B matches are due to start in November. At least faster than the law is catching up with the synthetic tour guide from China. It must be coincident, the Yang Yin affair - specifically why an option to inform others when applying for an LPA was removed from the form last month - and now the Sports Hub flare up, has something to do with the general who is suspiciously quiet. Not the one who condemned heckling of special needs children as "Vile. Total and absolute disgrace." The other one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Voice That Should Be Heard

What is it like to be detained for 32 years? Locked away without trial? Dr Chia Thye Poh was the longest-serving political prisoner of Singapore, longer than Nelson Madela's 27 years of incarceration on Robben Island, at Pollsmoor Prison and in Victor Verster Prison.
If your train ride to a workplace swarming with aliens is getting you down, or the seemingly impossibility of accessing your life savings at age 55 for retirement appears desolately remote, take a well deserved break and be uplifted by this video clip of the indomitable Chia Thye Poh, his first public appearance since his release in 1998.