Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lee Kuan Yew is the loser


In the Lee Family dispute, there is one this clear to me. Its not about who is lying, who is incompetent, or who benefits from this.

One thing for sure is -- LKY is the big loser.

Seems like LKY wants to demolish 38 Oxley Road. There is even a video proof, besides countless other evidences -- even found in the museums.



But it seems that since LKY set the precedence of one man rule, created dogs and lackeys by paying them high salaries for obedience, no one in parliament is standing up for his will.

It seemed to be clear that LKY does not want to be up in a pedestal, he does not want to be worshiped, and he does not want to have his house kept as a memorial. I respect him for that as he seemed consistent in his drive to make Singapore a better place.

Now his son, LHL wants to discuss family matters in parliament, something which wastes a lot of public funds and time, because his son does not want to follow his wishes.

I guess, he was a bad parent.

-- Iron Bowl

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Flea Markets at important to the community.


The Sungei Road Flea Market has been around before I was born. And I guess I have to speak up as I have had great memories there, shopping for random things and then going to Jalan Besar hawker center to have lunch.

In Singapore, I do feel that many things have been destroyed and there is no after thought and simply regrets. Many places I cherish is gone. The old National Library, Victoria Concert Hall, even my primary school building. There are so much memories which brings communities together, and in the name of progress and profits, they are all gone.

When a 30 year old house is destroyed, all that remains are the memories. There are often regrets, but such regrets are irreversible. Clearing of the jungles, removing of kampungs, I do believe that some of which have brought progress and improved quality of living, but today, in Singapore, some people may consider it to be already "First world" and I don't understand why heritage is not cherished.

When it comes to the government talking about conservation, even the botanic gardens was once at risk of getting removed and turning possibly into condos and malls as it was sitting on expensive land. Yet 38 Oxley Road -- the home a Lee Kuan Yew -- a private house which LKY himself wants to be demolished and it was put in his will is probably going to be conserved.

As Oxley Rd is a highly restricted place, I would say most of Singapore, >99% of everyone have not been to Oxley Rd, let alone see the building. For something that private, there is not much more heritage value more than seeing it in photos at the National Gallery. If a person wants his house to be destroyed after his death, his wishes should be followed.

=======================================================

Flea Markets play an important role in society. I've been to many flea markets and in Singapore, the Sungei Road Thieves Market is the biggest (and the only) one.

I've often saw vintage items which I've not seen before and talked to vendors to learn how to use it. It is very educational to understand how some of these items were used in the past. As a maker, understanding how and why some of the inventions and evolution of technology is very important as it gives a good context to understand how things were before some technology were created. Its also gives a much hands on understanding more than any wikipedia page or books can provide.

Of course, the benefit of a flea market that sells used goods is for people to find good deals. When Singapore is pushing the "Green movement", we are told to reduce, reuse and recycle. And the flea market is definitely "reuse" of these old items.

I like re-purposing things for parts, and for costumes, the flea market is a great place to buy something, cut it up to fit your needs. It creates a very good way to save money and reduce the waste which we see too often in society today, the whole idea that most things are disposable.

For many people who lost their jobs and cannot find jobs, selling some of their possessions of useful things they find is a good way of making a living instead of begging. Some of the carefully curated items are great for bargain hunters.

Over time, a community is also formed. The vendors know one another, and some of these old people keep each other company and finding treasure and selling it is a great way to stay active.

When I go to Sungei Road, I see familiar faces and a strong community there, and it is actually a tourist attraction, something that was organically formed and quite well known to tourists.

In the US, you do see garage sales, but in Singapore, many things are prohibited, especially putting things on the sidewalk and selling. The only place that it happens is Sungei Road and it is very disappointing that this will go away.

=====================================================

I am very disappointed that street food, even many hawker centers have slowly changed to air-conditioned food courts. Everything seemed so artificial and I would argue that these locations have land use as some of the hawker centers and markets are only open half day and the foot traffic is low. A structure built for such activities seemed a lot more wasteful than an open air market. While hygiene may be a concern for food vendors, I would say what we have left -- second hand items at Sungei Road does not share such concerns.

Bazaars that pop up from time to time are getting worse as even the rents of these bazaars are creeping up and there are only the few that could afford it, and some of them own cafes and restaurants.

I guess when the government does not collect rent, and cannot regulate well, the option that the bureaucracy has trained them is to destroy what they can't control.  And with this, it will be a sad loss for our heritage.


--Iron Bowl


To me, the market represents the Singapore spirit:

A harmonious community of people, regardless of race or religion, working hard alongside one another. 
They bring value to the nation by showing us all that items we consider trash still has value, and can be reused or resold, instead of consigning them to the incinerator and harming the environment.

Monday, June 12, 2017

So Stressful in Singapore -- Otters have factions.



Singapore is a small island, many things are artificial. Even the rivers are man made (and dammed up)

It was surprising to see a family of back in 2010s, and even as early as 2013, the otters split into factions. One group living at Marina is at conflict with another group on Bishan.

Similarly, on bike sharing, Singaporeans seem to destroy the bikes.


It seems like some Singapore still have that very competitive mindset. To be successful, others must fail.


Back in 2008 when I was involved in digital media, the social media was fragmented once it got to a certain size. Similarly now with entrepreneurship and startups. The founders seem to have factions depending on which universities they come from.

Everything seems to be a competition, and it seems even Singaporean Otters have picked up that behavior.

-- Iron Bowl

Monday, May 08, 2017

Making Mom Upset.


I was having a Mother's day meal with my mom and I realized that my mom was upset. Apparently, the Town Council accused my mom for dripping dirty mop water.

Initially I was wondering how did my mom do such a thing. She was in Genting last weekend, and has been traveling quite a bit. And well, I do not mop. No one else in the house mops. I was checking the grills we have by the kitchen window and they were locked. The locks were also rusty and can't be opened.

It was in fact quite impossible for us to hang the mop outside or any form of laundry.

I would have to thank the Toa Payoh Town Council for making me check on my window locks as I have removed them since, but the fact remains, I don't think we mop the floor much and certainly did not hang the mop outside -- Well if you consider the mop heads "outside" (See photos below)

The mops were NEVER hung outside as the window grills cannot be opened.

I don't understand why the town council would put our address in all the elevators and notice board around the flat like loan sharks shaming us if we had owed money.

Then I recalled. I did complain about the lift not being level, lift doors not closing completely. I highlighted the flaws of the lift to the town council, and perhaps I have given them my address. And is this how they treat whistle blowers?

Is it wrong to put the mop where it is?... (No, we don't usually mop the floor, not me, not my mom, not since Chinese New Years Eve )

Please let me know. Otherwise, is the Town Council not happy because I reported about the bad and possibly unsafe lifts to them?

And I have do not hang my clothes outside as well -- BECAUSE THE GRILLS DO NOT OPEN.

-- Iron Bowl.










------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Update:

The notices are sent by Town Council.



I am not sure if my family was harassed because it was politically motivated or perhaps it was due to me informing them that the lifts have been dangerous as they were not level and the doors don't close properly. 

I would like to ask if you think such behavior of sticking notices of your unit number for something you could never have done is considered fair?

Please let me know what you think.

Regards,

Robin


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Stealing People's lunch.


In Singapore, the Prime Minister entourages citizens to "steal other's lunch". This seems to be a rhetoric that he keeps repeating.

I guess this can be said about his success.

It is of course, his wife Ho Ching that manages Temasek Holdings. And together with him managing GIC, they manage all the sovereign funds. It could be said that the sovereign funds are not managed as well as it should, and they probably over charged, but such behaviors where related parties are placed into important positions and given high salaries is all too common.

In the SMRT, the CEO is paid a very high salary, and yet there are no improvements in the train system. Without relevant experience and connections, and accountability, breakdowns are common.

On the Crony-capitalism index, Singapore is #5.

People in parliament, and high ranking officials in government linked companies are much related.


With connected people in high positions, they seem to get away with mediocre performance, and enjoying high salaries.

I would say there are a lot of people whom I respect, made their way to the top and became rich, but also many others who are there because of their connections.

Many rich families with mediocre second generations get into the family business, and in Asia, by managing properties, get even wealthier and believe they have made it. With their egos inflated, they fail at everything else and then increase rents to cover their outside losses.

With enough of these rent seeking families who own most of the properties in the market, they create a non-elastic situation where they can make money off the backs of everyone else.

In many countries, such practices are often curbed as it affects social mobility, but in countries where the ruling party controls finance and much of the economy with their friends and families, they can create rules and regulations that favor their friends and families.

In the case of a country where the GDP is so high but a lot of people do not have buying power, it is easy to see how some of these cronnies have so much money to enjoy the high life, yet they provide so little value to society.

Controlling media, it is easy to make others angry at foreigners for "stealing your lunch" but with lax immigration policies, "low business morality" and paying people below market values, it is easy to sway others away from the fact that "There is much less social mobility than before"

If you are born in those families, you can do nothing and be rich, and if you are outside, you can work till you die and not even afford public housing.

Don't get angry at foreigners and think that unskilled labor and semi-skilled cheap programmers can easily come to steal your lunch. Remember, it is the policy makers and their connected friends who own the business that decide to hire these low wage staff and not pay market rate while they keep the profits to themselves and pay little taxes on that.

They have been stealing your lunch from the start yet people are often too distracted to realize that they are in for the ride.

-- Iron bowl.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Most expensive motorcycles in the world.

Can the Finance Minister stop meddling with poor people?

In his Ivory Tower, the Finance Minister who survived a stroke, decided that to lower the cost of small motorcycles, he need to increase the tax for all motorcycles.

I don't think increasing price will ever lower cost. Perhaps, when they increase prices for public transportation, it made buses and MRTs more affordable?

Well, there is the COE. See, in Singapore, you have to pay to buy a piece of virtual paper before you can own a motorcycle for 10 years. This paper now cost $8,081.


In the past (like 2015) A Harley Streetglide would cost $45,000. And Today, the same motorcycle (the 2017 model) costs $65,000.

That is a hefty 25% - 30% increase.

Sadly, for smaller motorcycles. The situation is much worse.

In 2010, My friend bought a Spark 135 for about $5,000. And Today, the same motorcycle cost over $12,000.

That is more than 100% increase.

Sadly, this increase does not only affect riders. Many dispatch riders that deliver mail, packages and your food use these motorcycles, and it will eventually end up driving costs up and affecting all consumers.

Motorcycles is a necessity. There is no such thing as a "Luxury motorcycle" In Singapore, it rains almost every day. No matter how luxury, you endure the rain, sun and exhausts fumes. There are also many bad drivers that make it dangerous as well.

Many people who own motorcycles -- even the big ones -- own it more for a hobby, riding to Malaysia for touring. And they do not use it everyday. So why TAX THEM MORE?

The cooling measure clearly failed, and cause motorcycle cost to increase. The basic principle of supply and demand plays a role. With the COE choked, the number of motorcycles is shrinking and when the Tax is increase, most people will not buy a new motorcycle, and decide to repair their 10 year old motorcycle and renew COE. This cause the available COE to be reduced, and hence price goes up.

The SG Budget should help Singaporeans but I start to wonder why driving cost up in the most expensive city in the world actually helps the people living there?

Sure many people are concerned about the 30% increase in water price, but as you do your online shipping, guess who delivers some of your food and goods. Its on Vans and Motorcycles, and be prepared that the charges for delivery to be increased again.

Perhaps the government want Singapore to be #1...

#1 in bike cost in the world

-- Iron Bowl

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fearmongering after Amos seeks Asylum


With Amos Yee successfully getting Asylum in Trump America, what does this tell you about Singapore laws?

To get things straight. I do not agree with Amos Yee, and I do find him rather annoying. His behavior is rather immature, but granted, he was a teenager, 16 year old when he first put up video posts, I could not expect more.

FACTs:
Former PAP youth leader or a former NMP can incite hatred over religion and race without prosecution. May get counseling or a nice talking to.
If you are a 16 year old boy who has criticized an authoritarian leader then similar comments will send you straight to jail.

======================================================

So, after Amos Yee successfully seeks asylum, many Singapore seemed to be jealous and say that US is encouraging hate speech and US lets Singaporeans "escape NS" And many people will follow.

Bitch please. Anyone can try slandering the Prime Minister and go to jail to escape NS, I DARE YOU TO DO SO. I've known of a person who broke his legs a week before enlisting and now, he walks with a permanent limp and was in a wheelchair for 2 years. He did not go through National Service.

Sure, if you are desperate to not want to serve National Service, you can jump from an overhead bridge and don't bend your knees. That ought to shatter both kneecaps and perhaps you don't need to serve NS like him.

======================================================

The IB trolls failed to get more attention on their negative replies on Facebook, now it seems that people are spreading rumors.

PAP grassroots members circulating misinformation of police action to instill fear and discourage discussion of unpopular policies

Spam message circulating on WhatsApp warning public to refrain from talking about the Government

The message goes like this.

"Don't forward any posts or videos etc., u receive regarding politics/present situation about Government/PM etc.
Police have put out a notification termed ..Cyber Crime ... and action will be taken...just delete...inform your friends & others too.
Writing or forwarding any msg on any political & religious debate is an offence now....arrest without warrant...
This is very serious, plz let it be known to all our groups and individual members as group admin can b in deep trouble. Please take note of this seriously."

I feel that such misinformation is much worse than what Amos did. During the election, there are cases where people receiving messages telling them to "Vote Wisely" because their vote can be tracked, and there will be consequences if they are in civil service or government linked companies.

I do feel that such misinformation is in fact more dangerous and the people involved should be imprisoned for a longer sentence than a 16 years old cursing on video at a dead man.

Clearly, some people in the government feels threatened. Someone is doing something right.

-- Ironbowl




Monday, March 20, 2017

Grab / Uber Offers #Singapore #March 2017

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Also: Nike's Air Max Day has arrived and here's what you need to know
ComfortDelGro
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Uber
uberPOOL – Enter promo code 4LESS to enjoy $4 off up to 3 uberPOOL rides now till 24 March


From a friend. Got Offer must share.

-- Ironbowl

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Making Motorcycles cost more - Singapore

Recently, with the government's attempt to reduce the Motorcycle COE prices to make smaller motorcycles more affordable, they created a tiered system to tax the motorcycles.

The current ARF will apply to motorcycles with OMVs up to $5,000. After that, the next $5,000 will be subject to a rate of 50 per cent, and the remaining OMV beyond $10,000 will be subject to a rate of 100 per cent.


On the surface for people who do not know about motorcycles, this looks like a good idea, however, if anyone actually met up with motorcycle dealers, riders and the distributors, this is a DISASTER.



So, most motorcycles WILL COST MORE.

The CB400 is simply a workhorse. If the machine price costs S$7000, with 50% for the $2000 above $5000, YOU WILL AT LEAST PAY $1000 more for a very common workhorse motorcycle which is one of the most reliable bikes.

So with COE today, this bike can be around $18,000!

And by the way, if you think this is ok, this motorcycle is around $10,000 in 2007

Looking at other motorcycle prices, The Yamaha T-max is considered a "luxury" Motorcycle because the motorcycle machine price is around $12,000

So the additional tax is $4,500 (for machine price of $12,000) so every Yamaha T-max 530 will cost $4,500 MORE



My Heritage Softail Classic, NOT EVEN a Luxury motorcycle has a machine price of $22,000 (OMV Price)

The motorcycle on the road back in 2007 is about $40,000 And today, it is $55,000.

================================================================


The government decided to charge motorcycles COE from $1 and more after 1994, and when they limit the number of COE for motorcycles, the price of the COE increased sharply.

FACT:

Motorcycles are not a luxury. It rains almost every week, and in Singapore, the weather is not predictable and you get caught in the rain more often than you plan.

The danger is real. There are a lot of bad drivers who do not check their blindspot. Recently, a van rammed 8 motorcycles on the BKE, killing 2. Whether you are riding a big bike or a small bike, you dies when you get hit hard.

Motorcycle do not really take up a lot of space on the road. During traffic jams, most motorcyclists do "lane splitting" and filter between the cars. This reduces the jam significantly as they are not part of the traffic.

Furthermore, it is a more efficient way of transport when most people travel alone and riding a motorcycle saves space and reduces traffic jams.

If you increase the price of new motorcycles, people who cannot afford to buy a new motorcycle will renew their COE and continue to ride, thus making the COE quota to decrease, and COE premiums to increase.

Singapore already has one of the most expensive cars in the world. This move will make motorcycles most expensive as well.

There is no such thing as a luxury motorcycle. Motorcycles are essential for delivery today in future business as eCommerce picks up. With higher motorcycle prices, delivery charges will increase and it will cause inflation.

Today, COE price is $7,483. It is the highest ever.

The finance minister did not solve the problem. He made it worse.

A small motorcycle like FZN150  costs $14,300 on the road, where a similar motorcycle costs $8,000 in 2007.

People who need to get places and CANNOT AFFORD cars, NEED to ride motorcycles. The public transportation system does not bring you to many places, and motorcycles is still a necessity.

WHY TAX PEOPLE WHO CANNOT AFFORD CARS BY CALLING IT "LUXURY MOTORCYCLE" which is simply a way to tax the poor more.

So sadly, Singaporeans and motorcyclists have to "eat it" and pay more again, while policymakers continue to make millions by not solving problems and using the only book they know.

"If there is a problem, charge more...."


-- Ironbowl





Monday, February 20, 2017

Singapore Budget 2017

Its seems like most years, there is only bad news when it comes to the Singapore budget.


For the past few years, there seemed to be a little positive direction in the budget in having more social spending, and I would have thought that the same would happen this year.

Sadly, it seems like the government is unable to deviate from its expansionary budget. I would say, the government collects record amounts of funds every year, from taxes, land sales and investments, building up funds to be used "on a rainy day"

With the doom and gloom in the horizon, lower investments entering the country, stagnation of industries, residential housing bust, etc, I expected perhaps the government would find ways to spend funds to stimulate the economy.

I was wrong.

Days after declaring the increase of service and conservation fees, the government decides to increase the cost of water by 30% (without any real reason given).

There are new ERP charges on Adam Road, and the motorcycle taxes will increase.

It seems to go in line with the unpopular white paper to increase the population to 6.9 million people when these charges are in place to put in more infrastructure, and control the vehicle population, etc, however, with increase cost and increase population in a time where the country is not doing so well, it just seems to create a negative cycle.

Inflation with a stagnating economy.

There is a lack of innovation and risk taking by the policy makers and by favoring one industry -- finance industry -- REITS has made it much harder for businesses to afford rents.

In my opinion, this budget does nothing much to revive the economy. The increase costs will make life more difficult for many and not really affect much the rich as there is no capital gains tax and inheritance tax in Singapore.

I feel that in our long term planning to move the country forward, nothing has changed and it reinforces the mindset that everyone needs to look out for themselves and the government does not spend much on social spending. There is not much social spending to alleviate poverty and yet we are continuing the surplus for more reserves.

In many developed economies, social spending is up and public investment in social security, poverty alleviation, education and healthcare usually raises the bottom up and reduces inequality. In Singapore, this continues to be absent as these spending is low according to OECD standards.

====================================================

In terms of innovation, Singapore seems to want to go in the right direction, but once something happens, it shrinks back to its shell.

Testing Self driving cars, nuTonomy got into an accident last year and all tests have halted. Cars are grounded and no further tests allowed. Instead of looking at how laws can be setup along with insurance policies that would cover driverless cars, innovation cease when a minor accident happens.


====================================================

If surplus budget is to store for a "Rainy Day", I would like to ask how does a "Rainy Day" look like, and would the Gini coefficient need to be, before the government takes action to solve income inequality?

-- Ironbowl







Monday, September 05, 2016

What Pokemon Go Teach you about Singaporeans


Singaporeans have been conditioned by the government to follow certain norms. And because of the controlled media, it is sometimes hard to find out what exactly is wrong as the government run media companies don't really report objectively.

What the government describe as "Kiasu" mentality, where the youths are stressed and most of them spend much time on tuition and extra classes to get better grades to a point that Singapore probably has the highest suicide rates for young people.

I don't think "Kiasu" is even a good thing. No matter how you spin it, Kiasu people who do not take risks are simply replaceable by robots.

Sadly, it is not only the "Kiasu" mentality, many of these Kiasu people are also very hateful inside. Its is not about winning and succeeding, it is also about others failing.

I've been to popular areas where there are rare pokemons, and you do find a lot of Singaporean. What seems to be only a game, you get hordes of people following the crowds to get rare pokemons. In many other countries, you do get helpful people teaching others about the game and building communities, but in Singapore, you may not even get much response when you ask people in the crowd "Hey, why are you running that way?"

I've encountered situations where people block the bridge at Marina Bay Sands, even after they caught the Dragonite. They just stand there and not move, and with enough of them, many others cannot come close enough to catch the Dragonite.

In many other cases, some idiots will think it funny to go in a crowd and shout "Snorlax" and begin running in a direction, hopefully, tricking others to join in. While creating a stampede, they stand back and watch people confused and searching for the imaginary Snorlax.

There is also an app on a webpage which allows people to put in Pokemon Sightings, and you get a lot of fake posts of rare pokemons on the site.

Is this the kind of uglyness you want to portray? Is this what you get from 51 years of brainwashing?

When you show a high CP pokemon a forum or the Facebook group, you get people calling you a cheater. Some even report the account to Niantic...

So when you see others succeeding, is it Singaporean to be jealous and hateful that they succeeded?

Of course there are many that spoof their accounts and cheat to get rare pokemon just to show it online and brag, but who cares if they cheat like Singapore bringing in Foreign Talents to compete in Olympics. Even if they win, nobody cares.

Come on guys, Pokemon Go is just a game, it gets you walking outside and you get to meet others. Please say hi, and share tips. Congratulate others on their rare pokemons, form groups to fight in Gyms.

Go meet new people and travel to various parks and gardens to be close to nature. Don't be jealous, and don't put others down.

By the way, I have no sympathy for the guy who will eventually be stomped on by the mob by shouting Snowlax in a crowded area.

--Ironbowl.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Suggestive Logo?



When I saw this without my glasses, this is what I saw.

STAND.UP


I was like WTF yo...


-- Iron Bowl

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Schooling is very Singaporean.


Schooling like Chang cannot just get gold to succeed. He has to beat his idol, other top swimmers in the world and the Olympic Record as well. Yup, 3 second place, all behind him.

Phelps can have 22 gold medals but he can't have the one against Schooling.

-- Iron Bowl

Friday, July 29, 2016

Singapore is like a Ferrari owned by a 71 year old woman



Recently, a woman stopped her Ferrari in the middle of the road in front of a tour bus and blocked off three out of five lanes, which caused a traffic jam along Orchard Road.

There seems to be a parallel to Singapore, an island state which invested heavily on science and technology, but seems to have trouble apply it. A self proclaimed smart nation, Singapore wants to embrace the Internet of Things, only to prevent civil servants from accessing the internet by next June.

Its like an old lady driving a Ferrari. All the power, but decide to road hog and block traffic.

DBS recognized that Fintech is getting big, but MAS and the Singapore banks are slow to move, with full of regulations and rules and no one knows how to regulate. Alipay hit $100b in less than a year with zero branches, DBS took 50 years to get there: Piyush Gupta 

Even for a game like Pokemon Go, aimed at kids, the government needs time to study. I strongly believe that the "leaders" have no clue about technology, yet want to spend a lot of money not knowing what will happen, and eventually, fear doing anything with technology as they fear failure.

The big question is, you have already failed on so many fronts -- Failed to keep Casinos out of the country, Failed to control traffic and congestion with ERP and COE, Failed to provide a reliable public transportation, despite privatizing it, Failed to keep to budgets on big projects like Youth Olympics, Building of National Stadium.

Spending 87% of the cost on consultants for building a bin center is no way "prudent spending".

I don't understand why there is still so much fear. Failure has happened, no one was fired or took any accountability, why not allow more startups to go into Fintech? Why not allow Pokemon Go? Are you sitting on your high salaries and just saying no, because actually you don't know and don't want to look stupid?

-- Ironbowl



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Homophobic Country? Singapore


I have put on a rainbow flag on my motorcycle, showing solidarity and support for the marginalized people in Singapore -- Yes the much bullied LGBT community.

I would have thought that most Singaporeans will not know what a rainbow flag would mean, however, an early morning at East Coast, I got called names, "Faggot, Homo, Molester"

This is so shocking to me, to a point that I dare not leave the flag on my motorcycle, in fear of people vandalizing it. Later, I parked at Marine Parade to go for breakfast, and people who are above 40 years old, (Not teenagers) giving me the evil eye, and again, heard homophobic slurs thrown at me.


I don't really see why must people HATE the rainbow flag. I mean what I put on my motorcycle is my business. I don't understand why are people threatened by "Equal Rights" for Gays? They are not taking rights away from people, they are not making others gay? They are not calling people names like "Faggot!"

So if there are equal rights, does it mean the bigots who hide behind their religion cannot get away with hating and bullying gay people anymore? Is that why there is so much hate?


I left the flag out at the parking lot on the motorcycle. Thinking that I should not fear, I am not gay, but I do support gay rights, what are people going to do?

At the end of the day, I found the flag on the ground, with the shaft of the flag separated. I really do feel violated. I can't even imagine how a gay person in Singapore must have felt, if they were openly gay, and probably would live their whole life -- as a lie.

-- Iron Bowl

Friday, May 13, 2016

Stop Your Voluntourism - Singapore



Many students in Singapore like to go overseas for the "CIP" Community Involvement Projects, which is compulsory for them, and they need to clock in hours. When you force people to do things, many of them are either resentful or they simply do not care.

From an undisclosed source, Singapore Students visited Nepal and help raise funds to "build a school" It might be a noble gesture, but most schools in Nepal have been rebuilt with Bamboo and Tarpaulin, it may look temporary, but it works.

I don't understand why people think that construction is a "unskilled job". Just because Singapore companies import cheap labor in construction, it does not mean they are not trained. Simply getting school children to build a school after they watch a Youtube video is not enough.

Similar to this school as pictured, student volunteers actually built schools. They stack bricks and made cement. Yay...

However, unskilled construction in a country that was just struck by an earthquake -- IS A BAD IDEA. The brick walls are built without any supports, columns or foundations. Mixing concrete is also not so easy. Getting the cement mix to be of the right consistency, adding the right amount of sand, it all varies with the quality of sand / cement used and using the right amount of water matters.

If you think you are helping by building a school with unskilled Youths, I need to inform you that a building actually did collapse. Your voluntourism actually harmed people.

This school shown in the photos is actually done by unskilled, cheap contractors, and it is not stable. If you don't know anything about civil engineering, please don't "help kill more kids" when the next earthquake happens.  Earthquake destroyed the original school before, and it will happen again. Please don't risk the lives of others and waste funds doing thing which are not critical. Nepal does not need your crappy schools.

-- Ironbowl.






Saturday, April 30, 2016

Still no access to Handicapped lots.





I feel that the town council in many estates is out to make money and not serve the people. When you call them "lazy" as nothing is done to rectify the lack of accessibility after constructing the "barrier parking", the town council started visiting flat to flat to tell you about the clutter inside and outside your HDB flat, and ask you to remove a shoe rack outside the flat.

I don't even understand why they need to increase barriers at the multi storey carpark?

There was a slope for handicapped people, and 2 handicapped lots at the ground floor of car park. but after they built the "barrier parking", all the slopes around the HDB flats are removed, and as an able-bodied person pushing a cart or dragging a luggage, I find it hard to clear some of these very high kerbs.

I must think it would be very hard to access these carparks which I've never seen any handicapped person use -- EVER -- in the 15 years or so I've been there. Now, its IMPOSSIBLE to use them as there are no slopes and the barrier is in the way.

I do feel disappointed when town councils and public service creates more barriers and problems than help, and your tax dollars pay for their existence. I do hope they can exercise thoughts, but it seems like most of them just follow orders and procedures from someone who has never been on the ground.

Besides election time, I've never seen any MPs walk the ground, and when I talk to RC people or Town Council people about the accessibility issues, I NEVER get a respond.

-- Robin


Monday, April 11, 2016

The unnecessary construction


There are constant construction going on everywhere in Singapore. In Toa Payoh, they sealed up the drain outside the library opposite Blk 79, create a wide walkway. It did not really do much at all, and there are more construction done every year which does not seem to add much.

In the past year, all the car parks have gone to electronic parking. I do support electronic parking in principle, but when implemented, it seems to cause much traffic jams as either the sensors are not sensitive enough, or connection is bad. During peak hours, this adds to traffic jams when cars are stuck trying to get into the car park and blocked by the barriers.

What's worse is that with the electronic parking, it comes "barriers". To prevent motorcycle and scooters to escape through the barriers without parking, all the slopes at the pavement are blocked. Yes, in order to make more revenue by prevent the few from parking illegally, handicapped people and people using carts to deliver goods have barriers that prevent them from travelling efficiently.

Usually, after much complains, there are more construction again to create more slopes, but the new routes are often far and not well planned.

Looking around Singapore. I realize that unnecessary construction happen everywhere. Terminal 4, 5, project Jewel, the new parks opposite Istana, and the old rail corridor is getting rebuilt to be a "green corridor". The one thing I don't understand Singaporeans is that they want "Nature" but they want nice walkways, toilets and lighting? Perhaps vending machines and food courts too?

I am getting annoyed at the Grassroots system where few "volunteers" consisting of contractors and people working in government linked companies hoping to rub shoulders with the "who's who" and hope for promotion. Many with motives join the system (and in senior position too) and it makes many other volunteers feel uncomfortable as everything that they do is for their benefit. (not really benefiting others in the community.)

I've always said that unnecessary construction is a sign of cronnyism, and I've seen this in Taiwan, Hong Kong, where the public gets mad when they find out, but in Singapore, media is so controlled and people seem very obedient.

-- Ironbowl

Sunday, April 03, 2016

6 must do things when you want to do good.

Steps on how to do good.

1) Have an Instagram account.



You need to let everyone know that you are volunteering and which celebrities you have met as you are doing good. This is utmost important as the digital world say, NPNT (No Photo, No Talk)

2) Fundraise with friends.

When you do it alone, it may seem boring, so why not do it with friends? When all of you are having fun raising funds, and if someone asks, "What are we raising funds for? Or What will the funds be used for?" Simply ignore them and call them names, because they do not stick with the program.

Don't worry, Charities know what they are doing and your friend who question doesn't.


3) Fashion First

Even when you volunteer, remember, wardrobe malfunction can destroy your reputation. Even when you are off to the field to volunteer to visit an orphanage or to build a school, high heels, and a pretty dress is a must. For guys, a sport suit jacket will show that you mean business.

There are always photographers and camera everywhere, and you do not want to be caught in an unglamorous pose.

On the field, take lots of photos and post it up on Instagram... Pretend to work hard.



4) Take pity on people

"Awwww... poor thing, the Tsunami killed your family."
"It is so sad that you have a job but unable to support yourself... "Here's $2"
"Here $1 for the tissues I don't need. So sad you are blind... be grateful for people like me... Praise the lord."



5) Blame others for their misfortune

"Why did you take such risks?"
"Who ask you not to go to school?"
"Why don't you just go GET A JOB?"

Ask people rhetorical questions.. That is a sure way to motivate them to earn more. Seriously...



6) Start Judging others.

Now that you have done something, you earn the right to judge others. Ask Questions like

"Why did you share the Brussels Bombing but not Lahore?"
"Why did you change your profile pic after the Paris attacks but not after the bombings in Baghdad?"


"All Lives Matter... Not just Black people..."




-- Ironbowl




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SG100 is about LKY?


I was invited to a SG100 event, talking about building a future of Singapore, nurturing young generation and moving forward, but when I spoke to some of the young organizers, immediately I was confused as they shout slogans like "I love LKY", "I miss LKY" like they were suffering from Tourettes syndrome.

When they showed trailer of 1965, and talked about how 1 man built a nation, I realized that there was something wrong about the event. There was also Singapore songs, Baey Yam Keng, Jack Neo, and it does feel like a Pro-Singapore event that somehow turned Pro-LKY...

The food served was indeed expensive.. Sharks Fin, Abalone, Tiger Prawns... And quality was not bad, but I wondered about the intentions of this "foundation" which was a LLP and hysterical members who chanted about LKY.

If I was not from Singapore, I would have thought that there was some kind of extremist religious convention going on.

I do respect LKY. He was a man with conviction and used ISA to wrongfully detain the co-founder of PAP and the rest was history to be rewritten, and young generation are still calling his name after his death -- with fervor.

Wonder if some group of people will be benefiting from using his name...

-- Ironbowl

Monday, March 07, 2016

Singapore -- All talk when it comes to Green


Singapore seems very advanced and "future ready" on the surface, but in terms of sustainability, I don't really feel that Singapore is all that Green.

Firstly, Garden city is an apt description because the amount of "forest" in Singapore is less than 4%. The use of plastic is very high. In many sustainable events, they still give out bottled water, even though Singapore pride itself on having very drinkable Newater tap water.

In terms of transportation, Singapore has very high taxes for Hybrid and electric cars. Then the LTA decides to tax hybrid vehicles based on their power output, instead of the engine capacity as for their petrol counterparts. So ...

Let’s take a look at an example, say the luxurious and (relatively) fuel-efficient Lexus RX400h. Engine capacity: 3311cc. 
6-month road tax for petrol car of equivalent engine capacity: $1,836 
Power rating: 268bhp (200kW). 
6-month road tax for hybrid RX400h: $2,975 

That’s a staggering $2,278 more per year you have to pay for the privilege of driving an eco-friendly, fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle in Singapore.

With the Haze in mind, Shouldn't Singapore be all over emission free vehicles? Any amount of carbon removed, either from electric buses, taxis and all other vehicles will reduce air pollution, but they decided to put on a $15,000 tax on a Tesla (Electric Vehicle) for excessive "Emission" Because the government determined that the car is not “fuel-efficient”.


Next, on the issue of Solar energy use. It is very hard to sell back to the grid. Land Scarcity is used as an excuse for not using solar energy. Another excuse if Grid stability, something which many third world country including Nepal seems to be able to handle it well.

It is very hard to sell energy back to the grid, and there is no subsidies when going solar, unlike many other developed countries.

================================================================

One reason I could think of why sustainability takes a back seat is because Temasek Holdings have a stake in SP services, and Singapore gets a lot of tax revenues on fuel.

When you use solar panels, hybrid vehicles and electric cars, it affects profits and tax.

-- Ironbowl

Monday, February 29, 2016

Singapore, a weird city indeed.



Singapore has no official national definition of poverty, unlike some countries such as the United States which have poverty thresholds based on household income and size.

I also feel that Singaporeans do not have a good knowledge of how poverty looks like. Many people think that a lot of people in poverty are uneducated and caused by: Low-wage workers' wages are depressed due to the influx of cheap foreign labor, and workers are left out of economic growth.

This is partially true, but the influx of foreigners also drive up costs. Transportation costs a lot more than before, and the train breakdowns are more often. Even the motorcycle, a mode of transportation which people who cannot afford to drive can get around Singapore easily is becoming unaffordable as the COE exceeds $6,000 making the cost of small motorcycles over $10,000.

The rents and property prices can easily cost $250,000 for a 4 room public housing far away from the city, and most new couples who cannot otherwise afford housing, need subsidies and long term loans as their combined salaries may only be $5,000, making the public housing cost more than 50 times their monthly combined salaries.

Increasingly, I do have friends who are not doing well financially. They are not what you expect of people living in poverty. In fact, many of my friends with diplomas, degrees and post-graduate degrees who lose their jobs above the age of 40, find it very hard to find another job with the influx of cheap experienced professional labor.

Many of them end up becoming tutors or driving taxis to get by. Some who have savings decide to start cafes or small businesses, and most of them lost their savings as shop rentals are unrealistically high, and customers have low buying power.

I do know many people living in what I consider poverty. I have a classmate who was lecturing in a Polytechnic, owns a condominium, until his wife got cancer, and after a few operations, fell into a coma which lasted more than a year. Medical costs piled up and to take care of his wife, he eventually sold the condominium to pay for medical bills.

In the final days of his wife, he took care of her and stopped working for a while, but was still left with a huge medical bill after she passed away. He declared bankrupt, and lost his possessions and his job, and teaches tuition and services the bill he owed. In all sense of the word poverty, he fits the description, however, he is highly educated, unable to get any form of financial aid, and all the training provided by the government schemes do not help his case, and this is not unique.

There are in fact many people living in poverty, but due to means testing and loads of bureaucracy, unable to get any aid. Some of them got into hard times, others live with rich relatives, but unable to find jobs as industries disappear when the government change economic directions.

Many of them do have jobs, but the low wages and high costs of living keeps them poor. Even with a degree, many people still live hand to mouth.

I've accompanied people to apply comcare grants, and the questions and checks made can be rather degrading. The process is not fast either, and many who already are desperate could not wait for the process get frustrated and did not get the aid they need.

The fact that the spending on social services from the government is much lower than the SG50 budget is troubling and I do agree, more should be done for the people.

I think the government needs to address the fact that rents can be increasing to a point where a restaurant rent in a mall can triple in a span of 5 years, and yet salaries of the staff increase by only 10% which business owners are not willing to pay more.

There are specific groups of people who benefit from the system, pay low taxes, have not capital gains tax, earning dividends, but they do not seem to be willing to give back, and the fact that the income gap is worsening, yet, nothing is done to address it will only further inequality.

Healthcare in Singapore is also getting worse as queues at public hospitals are getting longer, and medicine costs more. With the typical Singapore mentality, the doctors here, foreign and local, prescribe way too much medicine for typical coughs and cold, making medical bills relatively high. A significant portion of the population would rather not go to the doctor as they do not think they can afford medical bills.

There is a reason for minimum wage, and having an amount where people can work and not be poor is important. The reliance of cheap foreign labor creates overcrowding, and it leads to more social problems which does not seem to be easily resolved.

I also feel that education costs needs to be more affordable. For many years now, many bright students who entered NUS, NTU and SMU cannot afford school fees and have to rely on bursaries and donations. I've donated to many of such bursaries, but when I see that the university has record profits, I do question why is there even a need to charge that high for school fees when there is so much unnecessary construction and buildings which are built and unused.

On the case of SMRT, I recently took the downtown line, and was amazed by some of the shopping areas in the train station, and yet there are ugly overhead bridges. The stations are all very big in size compared to many other countries, and of course, the cost of building these stations borne by the government would be much higher than building a smaller MRT station.

I've heard many reasonable suggestions of building a longer platform so that the lengths of trains could vary if the line become popular, but it was not done due to the additional costs, but looking at the shopping space built, I do not understand why the government needs to build all the additional space for a private companies like SMRT to run rental business, when their primary business should be public transportation which they are not doing a good job, yet having record profits yearly, while increasing fares when oil prices are low.

With a "Satellite ERP" system which costs more than $556 million (Probably will over budget as government cannot handle large budgets) why is there no discussion on such big ticket items which serve no purpose other than "taxing" Singaporeans more, and ERP has never reduced much congestion as costs of vehicles are already so high, and depreciation may likely be more than the cost of ERP.

Many things do not make sense as I strongly feel that those who benefited more from the system -- the rich land owners -- should be taxed more to have more social services without the needs for means testing which can sometimes be demeaning.

-- Ironbowl




Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Solar is here, some reasons why businesses are still not jumping on board.



There is a low of talk about sustainability in Singapore, Eco seems to be the buzzword, but in terms of action, with such a small land size without natural resources, and long hours of daylight, it totally makes sense for more businesses to go Solar.

However, in Singapore, any PV system exceeding 1MW must obtain a generating licence from EMA and register with the Energy Market Company as a market participant, even if all solar electricity is consumed on site. The registration is very complex, and thus may be costly to implement.

Since 2008, you are allowed to sell back to the grid, there are available technologies to cost efficiently do so in US and Europe, but the market mechanism in Singapore makes it almost impossible to happen.

As Singapore is largely dependent on fossil fuel business, with oil refineries, transporting and repairing of oil tankers, manufacturing of oil rigs, research and process of oils and plastics, all contributing to a significant chunk of the GDP, the oil and gas companies do have good friends in the government to slow the progress of solar.

Every year since 2008, there has been much talks, but till 2016, I've not seen much progress on businesses going solar. Here are some reasons.

1) Many businesses do not own the facility. When you lease the facility or land for 30 years, using capital to invest on something that does not really impact the business is what many companies do not even consider.

2) There is still much laws and regulation when you generate significant amount of energy. Even when the laws change, the perception is still, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO DO IT.

3) Is is complex to sell back to the grid. While getting a battery is an option, for many businesses with large roofs, they WILL produce more energy they can use and it would be a good idea to sell it back to the grid as they may need to buy some energy to use at night. Instead of paying to store, using the grid to store is a good solution. The mechanism to sell back to the grid is not so transparent.

4) Lack of awareness and knowledge that Solar Energy is 30% the cost of 2008. Yes, the idea of you getting ROI in 10 years does not sound sexy, but today, solar panel setups can get you back the cost in 3 - 5 years as technology improves. The panels are more efficient, batteries are cheaper, and the cost will only go down with more research and development.

5) Everyone takes energy for granted. There are not much blackouts in Singapore. Energy is relatively stable here and people do not think about sustainability because everything is out of sight and out of mind. There is no disasters, and what goes on, burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is also not seen by the public. However, if you live on the west side of Singapore, sometimes you do smell unpleasant odors from the burning of trash and fuel byproducts.



Well if you want to do something about it, there are many options to harvest the free solar energy.


Think portable. Even living in an apartment, you do get 6 hours of sun? Most of the time, this is enough to charge a portable solar device. This also mean that you can go out off the grid while charging your devices like tablets and phones.

Panels come in various sizes and attaching it to your powerbanks, you get power when you need them, and when traveling, you don't need to bring any adapters anymore for your all important mobile phone.


You might even consider a portable battery and solar panel. I've a set up for under $1,000 which consists of a 120W solar panel and a 400WH battery. This device powers my led lamps, fans, router, laptop, etc. With this device, nearly everything in my room runs off the battery which is in turn charged by the sun.

This device is also portable, and I can use this outside during a BBQ or an outdoor event as the battery only weights 6.5kg and the panel about 1kg. If you want to bring your electric guitar outside to jam, perhaps with all your speakers and amps, you may want to bring your own power device from now?

The future is here, we can all play out part to use renewable resources. I think it is time to look into solar energy, whether your government want to talk about it or not.

-- Iron Bowl