Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teen Prostitute and Gangs in Balestier

I was in Balestier (Singapore) a while ago for dinner, and I never expected something like this to happen in Singapore.

At 7:30pm, after dinner at Whampoa Market and Hawker Center, I was walking to a bus stop when I saw a very young girl, not even 14 years old buying condoms at a 7-11. I was curious how old the girl was, so I asked her, then a 50+ year old man came and asked if I had a problem.

I commented that she looked a little young to "doing it" and the man somehow got offended and asked me to "take it outside." As I got out of the 7-11, there were several other men approaching me, and I decided that something was not right and I ran off and boarded a bus.

On the bus, I kept thinking if the young girl was being forced or pressured into having sex (I presume) and whether there was anything I could do to help her.

Did I do the right thing by running away?

-- Iron Bowl

Friday, May 14, 2010

Study: Singapore the worst environmental offender

Results of a study jointly done by NUS and the University of Adelaide reveals that relatively to other countries, Singapore is the worst environmental offender. Though there is lots of preaching of being a "Green City" and having "Eco-friendly policies", the fact is, Singapore talk the talk, but does not "walk the walk"

Singapore's headlong rush into developing a modern megalopolis over the last 30 years had taken a terrible toll on its natural environment.

There are a few observations I've made in the past which suggests that Singapore attempts to look Green, but not sure whether it "does Green"

1) Majority of the public still prefers plastic bags, and there is only a half hearted effort for people to bring their own shopping bags.
2) Everything in Singapore is burnt in incinerators, and I wonder if there are even working filters at the incinerators as I can definitely smell weird chemical smell near Senoko (Tuas area) and Toh Tuck Area.
3) Public is dissuaded to use Hybrid Cars. Prius has a High Road Tax, and Civic Hybrid has much higher road tax compared to Civic, and there is no ROI from the savings in petrol.
4) Singapore still use a lot of old inefficient diesel powered Taxis, buses and Trucks. With cleaner diesel available, there is no attempts to push towards the clean / low emission diesel engine for all vehicles as the "Tax system" does not support this.
5) Singapore's diesel is still not Euro IV compliant even though it sells Euro IV standard is common in Europe which offers tax incentives.
6) With the push for population density, much of the land is used for residential purposes, with little efforts to conserve nature.
7) With the booming economy, much of the older (30 year old) buildings are torn down to rebuild, nicer, taller buildings. There is however little efforts to recycle.
8) Consumers still go for "cheaper" alternative, much like the third world. Cheap products such as shoes, bags, and other daily use products are widely available, and do not have quality checks. These products fail frequently, amounting to more waste.
9) Air-conditioning is widespread everywhere. In schools, army camps, and many other places, none was present 15 years ago, but they are simply everywhere now. With buildings built with lower ceilings, they are also much required.
10) The attitude of the public in general is apathetic towards the environment. It does not concern them if there is no immediate effects. Recycling -- what recycling?

--Iron Bowl

Sunday, May 09, 2010

10 things I can do with S$8 Billion

10) Develop an IR Casino like Resorts World in Sentosa. ($6 Billion)

9) Give every Singapore $1,600. (Population of Singapore - 5 million)

8) Build 13 Esplanades.

7) Pay Salary of 155,000 Singaporeans for 1 year. (@$51,656 GDP per capita)

6) Buy 7200 Ferrari 599 in Singapore.

5) Buy 8400 executive maisonette with a roof terrace in Bishan.

4) Buy 25 A380 Airbus

3) Buy 11 million iPads
Business Week

2) Pay the salary of 100 Lee Hsien Loongs for 29 years!
Highest Paid Politician

1) Hire Temasek Holdings and pay their Admin fees to manage Singapore's "Wealth"
Temasek Group Balance Sheets

-- Iron Bowl

Other links:
Temasek Holdings Secret: $8 Billion Incurred In Administrative Cost in Year 2009!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Citibank AXS Station #FAIL

Citibank AXS Station was supposed to bring convenience to users by allowing them to pay bills, however, due to the increase in prices of everything, my credit card bills have exceeded $2000 every month.

Last month, my Bill came up to $4601, thanks to NTUC insurance which raised it premium from for commercial vehicle $1200+ to $2100 in 14 days. I usually pay my bills using the AXS station, and when the bill exceeds $2000, it gets very annoying as my ATM card has a stupid $2000 limit.

Last month, on my $2300 bill, I paid $2000 and the $300 remaining generated $60 interest fees. WTF? That is 20% per month or 240% interest PA?? I decided to pay it all, however this month, I need to go to the AXS machines 3 times, $2000 - $2000 - $601.

This is a very annoying process and since the price of everything increased more than 50% in the last 3 years, I would suggest that the banks review their ATM limits in Singapore to $3000, as face it, cost of living is much higher now.

-- Iron Bowl
Marina Bay Sands

I made a trip to Marina Bay Sands yesterday on 30 April 2010, the 4th day of opening, and I was very disappointed with transportation to the Casino.

The following are my observations:

The Marina Bay Sands website is annoyingly slow. When I click on the bottom under "Maps and Directions" its shows a Google Map.


The new public bus routes reach many of the major MRT stations in Singapore, making it easier for the public to reach Marina Bay Sands. Please click on this link to see the additional MRT stops beyond Promenade and Marina Bay MRT Stations.

Circle Line (by foot): Exit at Promenade MRT Station and take a 10-minute walk from the station to Bayfront Avenue via the pedestrian footpath adjacent to the public road.

Circle Line (by bus): Exit at Promenade MRT Station and board the public buses (SBS 133, SBS 97, SBS 97e, SMRT 106) from bus stop along Temasek Ave outside the station.

North South Line: Exit at Marina Bay MRT Station and board the public buses (SBS 133, SBS 97, SBS 97e, SMRT 106) from the bus stop outside the station.

North South Line: Exit at Raffles Place MRT Station and board the public bus (SBS 97) at the bus stop opposite Oglivy Centre along Robinson Road or at the bus stop in front of The Sail along Marina Boulevard.

Public Bus

* SBS 97/97e: Jurong East to Marina Square (loop)
* SBS 133: Ang Mo Kio Interchange to The Esplanade, Raffles Avenue (loop)
* SBS 502: Pioneer Road North to Marina Square (loop)
* SBS 518: Pasir Ris to Suntec City (loop)
* SMRT 106: Bukit Batok Interchange to Marina Centre Terminal
* Night-rider service: NR1 and NR6 (Available on Fridays and Saturdays)

I thought, well there are buses to Marina Bay Sands, how nice. However I tried to follow the vague directions and exited at Marina Bay Station. It was horrible. The place was populated with construction workers, heavy vehicles, dust and lots of traffic!

I could not find any bus stop upon exiting, and the foreign workers are not helpful either.

I followed this big sign right outside the Marina Bay MRT Station and it brought me to this bus stop.

As you can see, there is none of the buses as described on the Marina Bay Sands website except 133M, and I waited for more than 45 minutes before the bus arrived. Getting to this bus stop is not easy as well. It is easily a 0.5km walk on narrow walkways with speeding trucks, cyclists, and crowded with foreign workers.

So if you reach this bus stop by following the directions of the sign, you have been deceived!! That is the wrong bus stop! By asking the bus drivers when I got onto 133M, I realized that there was another bus stop across the road, unmarked.

Well if you find a bus stop without any signs and information, guess what, you are maybe at the right bus stop!! There is absolutely no help from the people at the MRT station, and the sign outside the MRT station is misleading. Wow, since Marina Bay Sands is just opened, having more signs would definitely help!

Actually Marina Bay Sands is not too far from Marina Bay MRT station, it is like 2 bus stops away.

I would dissuade you from going to Marina Bay Sands now if you are not going to the Casino as there is still a lot of construction going on, and heavy vehicle and lots of workers. The shopping is not really opened yet, and public transportation there is a mess. Getting on the Taxi would mean you would have to pay ERP and many additional costs when the driver gets lost trying to get there.

With all the profits SMRT and SBS has made, I was really disappointed at the planning and management of this. Since Marina Bay Sands is open, I would assume that the public would be interested in going, and to encourage people to use public transport, should there be more signs displayed and people trained to guide visitors to the right bus stop?

The tourism board also needs to wake up. I'm sure visitors to Singapore would be interested to visit Marina Bay Sands as it is widely advertised as "Opened", but it is very confusing for a Singaporean to get there, let alone a foreign visitor.

This is such a let down.

-- Iron Bowl