Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gangster Movie

Scene from Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing"
Aw shucks, Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing (Jagal)" lost out in the best documentary category at the 86th Academy Awards. Oppenheimer says the film takes people to an uncomfortable place and asks them to look at painful truths. It's a rude reminder that gangsterism still exists today.

In the commentary track of the Director's Cut of the movie, Oppenheimer revealed that he did not want to film the gangsters making their rounds collecting protection money from Chinese merchants, he did not want be an accessory to the extortion. His Indonesian crew told him, "Pak, you must film this, it happens everyday, in every market." Co-commentator Werner Herzog chimed in, "It's frightening, because they are always smiling, both the extortionist and victim, to this transaction, with a lot of smiling."

Not many motorists smile each time they pass an ERP gantry - Everyday Rob People - the scam that does nothing for relieving traffic congestion. One bright young lawyer once argued in court successfully that it was illegal to charge for usage of the public roads when Road Tax is already collected. So they amended the law to make it legal. Such was the inglorius start of the Central Business District (CBD) scheme, which expanded to Restricted Zone, and current Electronic Road Pricing.

There's good reason to be unhappy about the latest round of S&CC hikes. Sembawang already has an accumulated  surplus of $11.6 million in the town council kitty, and another $20.4 million had been transferred to the sinking fund. Since it is sitting on a current surplus of $3.2 million,  what danger is there of running a big tab and crossing over into deficit? Even if that happens because of some investment in toxic financial instruments, isn't the accumulated  surplus money meant for a rainy day? You don't want to get started on the sinking fund. Under section 34 of the Town Council Act, upon issue of a writ of election, 80% (100% if the party that wins is a different party from the incumbent) of the accumulated surplus disappears into the black hole of the sinking fund. With the stroke of a pen, 80% of the town council collection goes poof at every election.

Someone should organise a screening of Joshua's movie at Hong Lim Green. That way, we get to see who are the real gangsters making the rounds.


  1. you don't say. 100% of our national reserve may go poof when the government changes hand. why then do you think GIC and TH are made private companies headed by husband and wife team?

    1. I believe SinCity has the number one husband and wife team in the world running state funds.
      I cannot recall any country having such a team, not even N Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Russia, PRC, etc

  2. What? This is clearly a very unknown fact for me, or I imagine, majority of Singaporeans!!

    What rights does the state (or party?) have to monopolize the monies from tax payers? Who appoints them the perpetual guardians of our monies with no expiry dates, let alone a familee- appointed company that is like a black hole?! We need to demand the useless bunch of lawyers here in SG to search their conscience and start speaking out for the people. They are acting like a bunch of presstitutes who only know how to press their masters' lumpar!

    And you have stupid people who wants them to continue governing because they do a 'good job'?!!! Until the can of worms are opened, we just don't know how "good" a job they are doing..only how good a job they are hiding the truths.

  3. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26412821

    Yay, we are number #1 in most expensive city in the world..huat ah!!!

    1. Our number #1 highest paid government in the world has truly delivered....we have surpassed the Swiss cost of living. At this rate, LKY and son might as well decree the retirement age as 76 instead of 67 that is assuming one is still alive, and of course it will be helpful if elderly folks can be paid for doing no work like LKY himself...LOL

    2. Sinecures are only for people with high merit. What chromosomes do the other elderly folks have to claim a job with high pay and no work?

  4. Asking Hyenas to have conscience is like asking the emperor to live like an ascetic.


  5. As they said, TCs were political creatures, when trying to explain away AIMgate. The author of your misfortune? The demi-god (Godfather?). The legal obligation to make the money go 'poof', as you say, is to make it as difficult as possible for the new non-PAP TC to function. The great man is a great exponent of fifth army tactics. The people will discover more and more of them in due course.

  6. The biggest rip off is in church

  7. Who knows what happens to the sinking funds and reserves when they are transferred to the fund managers or tarnsferred to be "managed" by the 2 SWFs? Each time there is a financial crisis, these fund managers report huge losses, eg Lehman Bro or mini bonds. And that is it: no further accounting or reporting back to taxpayers, no restitution of losses from town councils' managers, no one is charged, no one lose his job! But money is officially allowed to be "lost". In the first place, did the funds ever go into fund managers' books? How do taxpayers know it was not siphoned off to their own accounts. In this way, regular financial crashes, once every 5 or 7 years, are good way to "formalize" the disappearance of reserves and sinking fund monies. What do papigs think?

  8. They ain't call it "sinking" fund for nothing.

  9. The best part of it must be the reason given for hike in the Town Council conservancy charges is part due to electricity tariffs hike but someone pointed out that the tariffs actually went down !

    So they even had the audacity to lie through their teeth. Surely are our PAP leaders including LKY proud of their sheer hypocrisy especially those who keep insisting they are transparent ?

  10. Seeing some gangster action right now in the crimea...

    Tinderbox now...

    Just nid some loco 3rd party and non-state actors to lit it off...

    Hopefully those over there take above into account and stay rational...

    Wars are easy to start...hard to stop.


  11. Haha I made an analogy comparing governmental services to protection rackets, and people scold me. Thank you for this. :D

    1. In many ways the MIW operate like a bunch of gangsters, but are far more sinister in their deception masquerading as politicians pretending to serve the people and not least, rendering all state institutions subservient. It is indeed a tragedy there are 60% who do not see this.

    2. Unless one departs from Sin, otherwise, they will get to harvest what they had and are sowing.
      Many will get to see the sufferings of their children and grandchildren. It could be just few years down the road.

  12. @Anonymous 3/04/2014 6:06 PM, you have my
    sympathies, racketeers are powerful and organised, their minions will try to ridicule and derail you, racketeers are gangsters who wants to hear "the right things" too.
    And in agreement with your comparison, the awful truth is the PAP coverment is no different from protection rackets, worse, the PAP coverment are protection racketeers manipulating the reins of powers.

    ps, if you wish to see the postings I made, you can use the "Search This Blog" search function at, http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/.
    The other will be at Yahoo sg using my moniker, by clicking on my moniker or @See Toh Hiap Seng's, you will be able to look at our postings,
    go to this link for a start,


    thank you,
    Joshua Chiang

  13. (this article has been taken offline)
    part 1
    Sat, Jul 12, 2008
    The Straits Times

    Addressing concerns

    Three months since taking over the reins at the Manpower Ministry,
    Mr Gan Kim Yong talks about the headaches and highlights of his job.

    Excerpts from the interview:
    Inflation and income
    Mr Gan: 'We have learnt from our experience in the 1970s and 1980s -
    when wages rise in response to inflation, the outcome is not
    Then, when prices increased, pressure on wages went up and employers
    had to raise wages. Employers' costs went up and they had to raise
    prices further to support higher wages.
    This created a wage-price spiral and led to further inflation. So
    wages will never be able to catch up anyway.

    We understand the pressures employees face when prices go up. That's
    why the Government has measures like the Workfare Income Supplement
    scheme and Growth Dividends scheme to cushion some of this impact.'

    Local versus foreigner debate

    On the continuing need for foreign workers
    Mr Gan: 'Foreign workers will continue to feature in Singapore's
    labour market as they play a useful role. Some are doing jobs that
    fewer Singaporeans want to do, especially in construction. Some are
    filling in the talent gap we may have. Some are here to provide the
    vibrancy, the diversity and allow our economy to be competitive.
    We need to help Singaporeans understand that foreigners are here to
    make contributions to our nation, so they are able to accept them.'

    On views by some academics and retired top civil servant Ngiam Tong
    Dow that Singapore is too welcoming
    Mr Gan: 'Even during Mr Ngiam's time, we had a significant number of
    foreign workers from the construction sector.
    If we want to restrict numbers, there can only be two ways: Force
    Singaporeans into that sector or slow down development and have
    fewer construction projects. Instead of building the integrated
    resorts in two years, let's take four or five years to do so. It's
    possible, but not desirable.

    We are not too open. We have a quota system. When the economy is
    slowing down, we tighten the quota so there will be more jobs for
    Singaporeans. When the economy is expanding, we adjust accordingly.'

  14. part 2
    On allowing in only foreigners who add value
    Mr Gan: 'Mr Ngiam talked about whether we should draw a line - that
    those whom we take in must be better than Singaporeans. But again,
    there would be some jobs that fewer Singaporeans want to do, like
    construction. It's not practical to draw a line. Then who's going to
    do construction jobs?'

    On improving earnings for low-wage workers like cleaners and
    Mr Gan: 'Many new workers have come into the market. Some of them
    are doing part-time work. So they slow down the increase in the
    lower end of the jobs.
    These jobs also reflect the operating cost of companies; so they
    have to make sure their costs are managed. Thus, some of the wages
    may not increase as fast as that in other jobs.'

    On the view that foreign workers depress such wages
    Mr Gan: 'I don't think foreigners are to blame. By getting rid of
    foreigners, it does not mean the salaries of such workers will
    automatically increase if it doesn't come with increases in
    This article was first published in The Straits Times on 10 July

    (AsiaOne.com+/Business/+A1Story20080710+Addressing concerns)

    Joshua Chiang

  15. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/04/gan-tents-part-of-buffer-capacity-for-hospitals/

    Joshua Chiang