Thursday, December 27, 2012

The by-election and Iron Bowl WINNING Strategy

Iron Bowl stands by the theory that if there are more candidates, the people will have more and better choices.

I don't understand why it will be bad if more candidates from different parties join in this battle. In most countries without GRC and barriers for democracy, it is often common for independent candidates to participate in the elections. It is all about the messages that they have and the values they believe in.

In Ponggol East (where is that again?? There is East of Ponggol?), I believe it is a new estate, formerly "Lush jungle of the north", no parties have really built up a stronghold and have members canvassing the grounds. It is in fact, fair game. Anyone, interested in making it a better place can definitely do so. Even though there is significant threats like "If you don't vote for PAP, your flat will worth $0, and you will not get upgrades and all MRT station will be closed" (Come on, you really believe that? -- And yes, perhaps the 60.1% do) The incumbent party will have the benefit.

BUT remember, it is their failure to do their duty (as a husband) that caused this to happen. PAP was literally in bed with PA, and this by-election has to be called by the PM(or will it).

I strongly believe that the best candidate for the constituency should win, regardless of party. The one that can articulate their values best deserve to win.


Iron Bowl WINNING Strategy.

OPPOSITION: Please listen.

Politics is all about collaboration, and "give and take". Negotiations is key. You MUST always communicate with members of other parties, and come out with the best solution beneficial to all parties.

Even though this may sound like a waste of money, some will win and some will lose.

If the opposition can group together, and bring in 2016 to the table, they can

1) Negotiate territories and start building support for 2016, without overlapping effort. (although the PAP is going to redraw the line and change GRCs, but this is going to happen anyways)

2) Build their base and find out about how much support their members have. A good litmus test on their strength of their party.

3) As the election date draw close, they can always negotiate to let the strongest candidate win. (If WP candidate is strongest, the RP Candidate can always give up and tell their supporters to vote WP)

4)You can have more than 1 speaking opportunity to support the other candidate. If each candidate gets a speech, 5 candidates have 5 venues to support 1 candidate. Reach out to more people.

5) The "losing party" can negotiate with the winning party, and bargain support for other constituencies in 2016. That is one politics is all about, the negotiations and dealings behind the screen.

See, in the end if we have more members, the opposition can still win, even with many parties competing.

-- Iron Bowl

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Down 1 Million = Profits.

Singapore Air bought the stake for S$1.65 billion and sells it for S$440 million.  (Source: Bloomberg)

Singapore Air will book an S$322 million gain from the sale, after accounting for a writedown in its investment of Virgin Atlantic. So Virgin in the eyes of SIA is worth S$118 million ($440m-$322m) and selling it gives SIA a profit, so that the shareholders can get dividends at year end (which is now)? (Profit: Source: ST)

In 1999, the airline paid $220 million for a 25% stake in Air New Zealand; it is now worth only $28 million after the bankruptcy of ANZ'S Australian subsidiary, Ansett.


My thoughts:

1) If you buy at $1.65 billion and sell at S$440 million, you lose $1.21 billion + interests for all the years. (you don't have a profit)

2) Singapore Air will book an S$322 million gain from the sale?? Really? SIA bought it years back for $1.65 billion.

3) All the Singapore Media seems to congratulate SIA for making a profit?

4) Isn't there any accounting standards for at least listed companies to follow? This data is just ridiculuous!

5) SIA's majority shareholder is Temasek Holdings and are the profits going to be divided by shareholders while something is underwritten and expense off and absorbed by Temasek Holdings or GIC which uses sovereign funds but is not transparent to the public?

Something smells wrong here, and I sure hope there are more ways to shad more light into this matter.

-- Iron Bowl

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bus Captain should be paid more

"To make it easier for the common populace to understand the required responsibilities and accountabilities of Bus Drivers in Singapore, I have a suggestion that we can try to look at the issue from another perspective/angle as suggested by some Singaporeans for your reference. The Bus Captain is our leader and he must be responsible for the well being of all the passengers (Say 200 passengers, 10 trips, 20 days a month) , therefore his salary can be based on our passengers, say, one person $0.10 per trip so that is $4000 per month...."

I think this makes much more sense.

-- Iron Bowl

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The tale of 2 towns

In the city where we pay more than average by a magnitude to get the "best" for public service, and when it is for bus drivers, it is ok to lie to them and pay them low wages?

When there are no fair outlets that would listen to reason, and the rules and laws favor the rich and corporations, what can one do but to have a peaceful protest. And when that is illegal, then what?

“You can resign and go to SBS,” the drivers were told

Singapore is built on its position. A long time ago, many leaders have noted the advantageous position Singapore has geographically.

With no natural disasters, and an advantageous position, the Dutch, British and even Japanese wanted to take Singapore, and it is no surprise that Singapore once held the busiest port and best airport.

The well planned well oiled -- non-corrupt -- system built has seen great progress, however, in the pursuit of higher growth and higher GDP, many of the strategies have changed. The tax structure is evolving and mass influx of foreign workers does bring in the desired numbers, however the social cost is very high.

The leaders are put into place instead of being the right guy for the job and the dis-empowerment of the people, their lack of voice seemed to turn regular people into complainers and blamers.

There are 2 standards present, and whether it is legal to treat people this way, first think if it is right.

-- Iron Bowl

Monday, November 26, 2012

SMRT Strikes in Singapore

Singapore has been mostly strike-free for years. The last major strike came from the shipping industry in 1986. Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary-General of NTUC Ong Teng Cheong sanctioned it without informing the Cabinet. The issue was resolved within two days, but Deputy Prime Minister Ong’s actions angered certain Cabinet members. Since then, you do not hear about "Strikes" even though there are occurring in increasing frequency as they are mainly done by foreign workers.

Singapore makes going on "Strikes" a criminal offense. Have you heard about CLTPA?

Strikes and lock-outs in essential services — such as public transport services, broadcasting services and civil defense services — are covered under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. Workers in gas, electricity and water services are prohibited from striking, whilst others are not allowed to strike unless at least 14 days’ notice has been given, or while official conciliation proceedings are pending.

The Trade Disputes Act goes further, outlawing industrial action if:
a. it has any other object than the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the persons taking part in the industrial action are engaged;
b. it is in furtherance of a trade dispute of which an Industrial Arbitration Court has cognizance; or
c. it is designed or calculated to coerce the Government either directly or by inflicting hardship on the community.

The penalty for participating in illegal industrial action can either come in the form of a fine of up to S$2,000 (approx. US$1,588) or imprisonment for a period of up to six months.

Singapore also has strict laws regarding protests and demonstrations, and all “cause-related activities” are governed under the Public Order Act. A single person can be considered to constitute an illegal assembly if he or she does not have a police permit to carry out the activity.

All these laws come together to make industrial action a difficult option. For the average worker, the possibility of trying to initiate a strike is slim. And although NTUC said in its advertorial that they have threatened strikes before, this may come as a surprise to Singaporean workers.

etc. < Read more here >

Singapore has adopted the model of tripartism, where the government steps in to intervene and mediate between employers and employees. The Tripartite partners of Singapore are the Ministry of Manpower, NTUC and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

With the head of the NTUC so close to the government, pretty much nothing in the interest of workers gets resolved. There are no minimum wage laws and there is much inflation while low income workers' salaries remained stagnant for the past 10 years. The influx of foreign workers pretty much caused the income disparity. There are increased record profits by many of these exploitation of workers in privatized services like, "Public Transportation", "Power Services", etc. The CEOs of these companies get record salaries while the workers' salaries are depressed.

The controlled media and the union (NTUC) does not seem to do much and paints a happy face while sweeping the problems under a carpet.

A group of 200 disgruntled Bangladeshi workers went on a seven-hour sit-out on Feb 6, 2012 morning in Singapore's largest residential area Tampines over a dispute involving unpaid salaries. Apparently, this is "not a strike" and as many people were not affected, nothing was heard much of it.


SMRT workers refuse to go to work. -- The headlines is once again misleading from the government controlled main stream media.

Chinese bus drivers in Singapore in rare labor protest

"The drivers, employed by public transport operator SMRT Corp, were unhappy about having to switch to a six-day work-week with higher pay from a five-day week. The change meant less opportunity to earn overtime pay, the Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao newspaper reported on its website."

I clearly believe that in this case, spokesman for SMRT declined to comment and the government media does not have any other information (or it is all blocked), is very bad for the public. People need to go to work and with the astronomical car prices, public transportation is a main form of transport.

There must be a clear message from SMRT and the LTA (Land Transport Authority) on the outcome
and what can the public do to get around it. This is definitely a crisis which they caused, and crisis communications and transparency is key to resolve this as fast as possible as the outcome affects the lives of millions in Singapore.

I just hope that at the end of this, the CEOs and executives do not get a FAT year end bonus while they raise prices on the public.

-- Iron Bowl

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tax, Social Spending and Why Lowering Taxes For The Rich No Longer Works To Grow The Economy

Like most people, I dislike paying taxes. However, there are a lot of people that are misled by media and their lack of knowledge.

During the US presidential elections, there are just simply too much lies and misinformation. This seems to be true in many communist or dictator controlled governments as well. One very common lie and misinformation used is: "Lowering tax for the rich grows the Economy."

I just have 1 observation, for countries like China, there are many Millionaires and Billionaires. the tax rate is relatively low compared to US and Europe, and many of these rich Chinese want to go to US and Europe.

There are some countries that have no income taxes at all.

United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has one of the world's highest per-capita incomes, $48,200, and has no personal income or capital gains taxes.

Instead of generating revenue from income tax, the country, which is the third-biggest exporter of crude globally, is dependent on taxes from oil companies that pay up to 55 percent in corporate taxes. Foreign banks pay about 20 percent. Oil revenue, for example, accounted for 80 percent of consolidated government income in 2010, while income from various taxes, fees and customs duties made up less than 12 percent, according to government statistics.

While expatriate employees don’t pay for social security in the Arab country, UAE citizens must make monthly contributions of 5 percent of their total earnings for social security. Employers of citizens also have to make monthly contributions of 12.5 percent of the worker’s base salary for social security and pensions. Other indirect taxes include housing fees, road tolls and municipal taxes. The UAE charges a 50 percent tax on alcohol, and if a person has a liquor license and buys alcohol to drink at home, an additional 30 percent tax is charged.

Gas-rich Qatar became the world’s richest country this year with GDP per capita of more than $88,000, according to Forbes.

Relying on its natural gas reserves — which are the world’s third largest — for revenue, Qatar has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export the commodity. The country levies no taxes on personal incomes, dividends, royalties, profits, capital gains and property. Qatar nationals, however, have to pay 5 percent of their income for social security benefits, while employers contribute 10 percent for the fund.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that the government was considering a value-added tax in an attempt to broaden its revenue base and reduce its non-hydrocarbon deficit, which was equivalent to 17 percent of the country’s GDP last year. Other indirect taxes include a 5 percent charge on imported goods.

Like neighboring Middle Eastern countries, Oman derives the majority of its revenue from crude oil. The country’s oil revenues increased 35 percent in April to $8.49 billion compared to the same month last year and accounted for over 71 percent of the sultanate’s total revenues. Although, there is no individual income or capital gains taxes in Oman, citizens must contribute 6.5 percent of their monthly salary for social security benefits. A stamp duty of 3 percent is also charged on the purchase of property.

Despite its oil wealth, Oman has recently been rocked by a series of protests by residents demanding jobs and employment benefits. Several strikes at petroleum plants;over pay and pensions have seen activists jailed in the biggest labor strife in Oman since protests last year against corruption and unemployment triggered by the Arab Spring. There’s growing resentment in the country over the jobs offered to 800,000 expatriates, while the unemployment rate for citizens was 24.4 percent in 2010 and is rising, according to the International Monetary Fund.


As the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter, Kuwait’s oil revenue of $63.5 billion between April and November of last year, accounted for 95 percent of the government’s total revenue in the period.

While there is no income tax in the country, Kuwaiti nationals must contribute 7.5 percent of their salary for social security benefits; their employers make an 11 percent contribution. Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest countries per capita, strikes and protests by public sector workers unhappy about pay have led the government to introduce a 25 percent increase in wages. The IMF, however, warned Kuwait in May that such spending could impact the sustainability of its public finances . Only 7 percent of Kuwaitis work in the private sector, and the rising cost of retirement could put pressure on government spending.

Kuwait is no stranger to political turmoil, ushering in four new parliaments in the past six years. The country has been marred with corruption scandals implicating key political figures, while poor parliament-government relations have hampered policymaking. The IMF has recommended that Kuwait introduce a value-added tax and comprehensive income tax system.

Cayman Islands

Well known as an offshore financial center, the Cayman Islands are a big draw for the wealthy with its zero personal income and capital gains taxes and because it has no mandatory social security contributions.

Employers, however, are required to provide a pension plan for all workers, including expatriates who have been working for a continuous nine months in the islands. While there is no value added tax or government sales tax, the country does have some indirect taxes such as import duties, which can range up to 25 percent.

A high standard of living in the Caymans also means high property prices. The average cost of an apartment in April was over $550,000, while the average cost of a house was more than $736,000, according to government figures.


With no personal income tax, Bahrain relies on output from the Abu Safa oilfield, which is shared with Saudi Arabia, for about 70 percent of its budget revenue.

For social security benefits, citizens contribute 7 percent of their total income to the government, while expatriates pay 1 percent. Employers must also make a contribution of 12 percent of a citizen’s income for social insurance, and pay 3 percent for expatriate employees. Other indirect taxes include a stamp duty of up to 3 percent of the value of the property on real estate transfers. Expatriates also have to pay a 10 percent municipal tax for renting a home in the Persian Gulf state.

Despite its oil wealth, Bahrain had a budget deficit of $83 million in 2011 and is considering issuing an international bond . The country has also been in turmoil from pro-democracy protests by majority Shi’ite Muslims against a Sunni-dominated government. The protests began in February 2011 and followed uprisings in other Arab nations.


Considered one of the world’s most affluent countries, Bermuda also has among the world's highest cost of living.

While there is no income tax, workers may be asked by employers to contribute up to 5.75 percent of a 16 percent payroll tax that the employer has to pay to the government on the first $750,000 of an employee’s income. Workers also have to pay $30.40 per week toward social security insurance, which is matched by the employer. Other taxes include a property tax of up to 19 percent depending on the annual rental value of the land determined by the government. A stamp duty also applies to inheritance/estates from 5 percent to 20 percent depending on the property value.

Custom duties levied on imported goods are a major source of revenue for the government. Individuals relocating to Bermuda are charged 25 percent for goods they bring. Given its relatively low taxes, the country is a big draw for international firms, with more than 20 percent of its population being foreign-born. However, a 10-year work permit in the country costs a whopping $20,000.

The Bahamas

Among the wealthiest Caribbean countries, the Bahamas features an economy that's heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking.

About 70 percent of government revenue comes from duties on imported goods. Even though there is no personal income tax, employees have to contribute 3.9 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $26,000 annually, for a form of social security called National Insurance. Employers also have to contribute 5.9 percent of a worker’s salary for National Insurance, while self-employed individuals are charged 8.8 percent. The country also has a property tax of up to 1 percent.

Despite its prosperity as a financial center, The Bahamas has an unemployment rate of 15 percent and the political parties are feuding over oil exploration projects in its waters that could come at the cost of tourism.


It seems that having no income tax does not attract many companies at all. It does attract rich people who do not pay taxes, and that does not seem to help much in the economy, which the people pay in some ways or another.

In Singapore, there are no capital gains tax, but a Honda Civic or small car could cost $100k easily. The cheapest apartment you can buy in Singapore on the resale market is around $200k, and it costs a lot just to get to town by any transportation means as the further you stay, the more public transportation would cost.


Why Lowering Taxes For The Rich No Longer Works To Grow The Economy 

Why not? You may ask...  but leave more money in the hands of those who will use the cash to expand their businesses and the result will be increased prosperity, including the jobs that logically arrive during a period of growth. However, when there are other better opportunities out there, they will leave, and take everything away -- without paying any taxes -- at all.

And this is evident. In the 8 years of President Bush, there was a reduction of tax for the rich but it does not seem to do much for the economy, but you do see a lot of outsourcing of jobs and building of infrastructure overseas and jobs leaving the country.

While supply side economics may have been responsible for some very healthy economic growth, it came at the price of a substantially increased federal deficit. What many forget is that it was during the Reagan years that we went from being a creditor nation to a debtor nation as President Reagan was required to borrow heavily in order to make up for the income shortfall that resulted from so massive a tax cut.

Indeed, Reagan, himself, deemed the rise in the national debt during his term to be the greatest disappointment of his presidency. And lets look at Bush... or not... as you know the story.


I don't understand how many rich people can be so daft as well. They believe that they will pay more taxes and end up with less when they earn too much. There are people who own businesses that believe that if they go from earning $300k to $249k, they will pay less taxes.

In a way that is true, but the increased tax rate is only for the amount they earn that exceed $249k and not for the whole amount they earn. So by not earning the extra amount above the $249k does not help much at all.


I am all for attracting foreign investments to the country, but to offer low taxes, no capital gains or other tax incentive? I do not see it as even a feasible solution in the long term. If these rich people are not interested in paying taxes, I do not welcome them in my country.

I feel that the taxes should be spent on infrastructure, education and sustainable resources. With 50% of the world's population living in the urban areas, it will pose a lot more challenges as more people move in, and resources are required to improve infrastructure. Taxing the already poor people with a flat tax while the richest people who do not need the money use their money on investments, properties which they earn more from the poor.

Although this may seem all legal, it is not right. Earning money without putting in any effort and having a CSR which spends 5% of the profits on charitable activities does not make you a saint.

-- Iron Bowl

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween in Singapore

When has Halloween became so commercial in Singapore?

Has anyone remembered in 2011, Halloween at Night Safari was cancelled even after 7 months of planning and marketing?

"Halloween Horrors" at Night Safari cancelled

Today, you pay about $50 to get in to a Halloween event in Sentosa, or at Singapore Flyer. It has became a money making event. In malls, many stores are all selling costumes and candy, but I wonder, how many families do allow people to trick or treat?

-- Iron Bowl

Do decision makers in Singapore Engage?

Don't really understand some of these things below.

1) Have you ever noticed many display screens near the entrance of MRT stations displaying video footage that is recorded live of people walking around? I thought these screens should show you the time the trains are coming and not yourself walking towards a camera!

2) When paying for petrol, having the right credit card saves you 18.3% (at ESSO), so if you are poor and can't have credit card, you pay more for gas? Just stop the monopolized high price and be done with it.

3) Singtel has a program to give iPhones to the elderly. (Perhaps iPhone has an app to tell where cardboards and cans are located?)

It is common to see old people begging to sell you tissue paper, collecting cans and cardboards for recycling (and making a living). Most of them work not because they want to keep active, but rather out of a necessity as there are no social safety nets and housing and healthcare costs are simple unaffordable.

Old people are also exploited in Singapore getting less pay for doing the same jobs they did previously as there is a large influx of cheap unskilled labor from foreign countries available in Singapore. And yes, Singtel believes giving old people an iPhone is helping them.

Guess what, when the elderly is addicted to 3G and smart phones, they will pay for a service they previously are not paying for in just a year. They did it for maids, low income foreign workers, and now, the elderly are targeted as "customers" and it is just part of their CSR.


So these decision makers in big organizations in Singapore, how many of them asks their customers or the public they serve, do they need what you are spending millions to do for them?

-- Iron Bowl

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Employee Burnout

Singapore is seeing the highest levels of employee burnout in the region

With all the foreigners imported to "boost competitiveness" of businesses in Singapore, the local Singaporean workers seem to see their wages suppressed and working hours increased.

If businesses do not want to pay fair wages, and they can easily get foreign workers willing to work for less, why should the businesses pay higher wages?

Even as the economy sees slower growth, the report says Singapore has the highest levels of employee burnout in the region. Over 60 percent of the workers surveyed said their workload has increased over the year, and almost half said they are now working more than 10 hours a day.

With the Million Dollar Public housing, long long working hours, expensive cars and COEs and ERPs and what not, the city state still claims to have low taxes to attract the rich, while causing uncontrolled inflation and degrading the standard of living.

I took public transportation at Clementi today at 6pm and was shocked at the crowds. The crush was insane, and I've heard horror stories at Jurong East MRT station where crowds are so huge near peak hours that the escalators have to be stopped as there is too much people for the infrastructure to support.

I don't understand how this kind of living is sustainable, and why anyone would subject their children to this kind of torture. If I'm settling down in Singapore, I'll not have kids or be pressured to kill my kids as I can bear to see them suffer this kind of life.

Strangely, some Singaporeans still focus on materialistic things and find solace in sale and bargains after their long hours of stressful work.

-- Iron Bowl

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feedback experiement.

Recently Jack Sim, the founder of WTO (World Toilet Organization) posted a comment on Tharman Shanmugaratnam's Facebook Wall. About "Civil Service's Low Absorption Capacity for Social Innovation."

This was what was posted.  

Civil Service's Low Absorption Capacity for Social Innovation.
For many years, I've tried to contribute useful ideas to improve Singapore. These ranges from how to clean up hawker center/cofeeshops toilets; designing a 100% return tray layout (I can send you the design if you like), inventing conservation rooftiles for heritage districts, improving sub-contractors productivity in construction industry, resurrecting the 1880 Fort Tanjung Katong buried underneath Katong Park, exporting our 3rd World to 1st World Model by making Singapore a Global Trade Center for Poverty Alleviation- Designing Business to End Poverty, etc. 

Most of the time, the bureaucrats has no capacity to absorb these ideas. They are not empowered to challenge the status quo. They are in fact incentivize to protect the status quo and defend it against all new ideas. The only advices they listened to are White Professors from Top Western Universities. Why do we still have this colonial mentality that West is Best and Locals are Not Good Enough? Why do we have terms like 'Foreign Talent' but no such term as 'Local Talent'? Why do we instead always say "Ugly Singaporeans"? Are we really that bad? Why does the government always want to portray locals as Soft, Complacent, Lazy, Uninventive, Complaint King, etc. 

My grandma taught me that the one who criticize the goods are the genuine buyer. This wisdom can be applied for those who complains and gave feedback. They are the real interested citizens. It'd be much easier to be a sycophant but that contributes nothing. 

Writing this passage to you will immediately qualify me as an Ugly Singaporean who is unappreciative of all the other good things that the government has done. Of course, I appreciate and love my country. That is why I am interested to make it better. That is why I speak up even though it disempower me to do so. I just hope the government can start seeing the wealth of goodness in Singaporeans. Afterall, we built this beautiful country together with the PAP. Could the PAP have built it all by themselves without the citizens hard work? 

Forsaken by my own country, I spent the last 15 years contributing overseas. I founded World Toilet Organization, broke the taboo on toilets and sanitation globally, started 19 Nov as World Toilet Day every year. It reaches 1 Billion people last year. I felt welcome outside my country and rejected in my own homeland. It is a very painful feeling when you love your country. When you see so many things that can be done and felt powerless to do something about it. 

Lastly, Singaporeans are not against foreigners. We are fed up because you've failed to supply sufficient housing, transport and build social trust. It is the government that fuel the poor social cohesion by comparing local students agaisnt the top Chinese and Vietnamese students in our local schools; by praising the foreigners and condemning Singaporeans as troublesome, negative and selfish. 

If you start to see Singaporeans as good natured human beings, we'll also see you as kind and caring.
So why in the first place did the PAP MPs and leadership think Singaporeans are Ugly? I suspect it is because the only Singaporeans the MPs got in touch with face to face are the ones they meet at the Meet-The-People sessions. This group are not representative of the whole Singapore. They have personal issues. MPs compare notes with each other and concluded that ALL Singaporeans are demanding, selfish, unreasonable and sometime violent. 

Please broaden their exposure to ordinary folks as well. 

Thank you for listening.

Jack Sim

Of course there is some response, not by the Minister, but rather, others on the ground.

I feel that this is spot on. I feel that there is genuine interest to fix the broken system, however, the Ego from those who never failed (i.e. the Elite Ministers) who were once from the scholar system often makes things complicated.

The first generation of ministers in Singapore are very resourceful men, problem solvers who can react to problems and find solutions, and get necessary help when needed. However, as time goes by, when people are placed into the system because of academic achievements or certain relationships, there seems to be a shift of focus by the government from "serving the people" to that of "remaining in power"

I would say today, and in fact for the past 20 years, Singapore has made it. Singapore can be considered first world, however, the government still rules the country as though there is only third world citizens.

The education level of the citizens are much higher than what it was 30 years ago and people are willing now to engage and participate in nation building. I feel this is very positive as people do feel belonging when they participate in the planning process, and the government is seemingly interested to crowdsource for solutions, however, some people in power still have the mindsets that the citizens cannot decide for themselves, and everything needs to be done for them.

I feel that today, many positive changes are starting to be seen, many people like Jack Sim, Lim Swee Keng are stepping out to volunteer in Nation building, however, as they are not from the system, their advice are not taken in, and the government would rather pay foreigners millions to do consulting, which would yield the same results. I'm sure a local Singaporean who went to MIT could produce better results than a stranger who came from western countries.

At times, I'll pitch ideas, and see the same ideas used several years later when the government decide to hire foreign consultants to do the same thing which I was not allowed to do.

To be fair, I feel that most of the problems come from the middle management. They are not empowered to take risks, and failure will cost them more than "doing nothing". This is not specific to Singapore, but I've seen many other countries like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and even Indonesia taking positive steps and experts from overseas come back to their own country (even China) and be part of making the country a better place.

A forward thinking country would bring these people with external knowledge after being out in the international industry to help steer government departments in the right direction, however in Singapore, the expensive foreigners are seen to have better knowledge than locals who are returning.

For many things that are top down, with the government not trusting locals, the SMEs and local companies seem to follow suit, hiring foreigners. I've not seen much successful local companies, and even with a population of 5.26 million, many local companies find it hard to make it in Singapore. As for Spring Singapore and many other government initiatives that are supposed to help Entrepreneurs, they seem to be run by bureaucrats, and these organizations are hard to navigate, and they generally do not help much in supporting the businesses locally.

In fact, for such an advanced nation, why is there so few companies online? Don't they do business in the region? The Internet penetration is about 80% in Singapore, however, very few SME's in Singapore have online presence and the government initiatives WDA or WSQ which funds training in Singapore does not seem to be working, but rather the government just pays more and expects the broken system to work.

There are many broken systems in Singapore. There is uncontrolled inflation due to the shortsightness of the leaders to attract investors but with no tangible investments, the floodgates go to property and the locals will definitely find it hard to buy a home with salaries stagnate and cost of living escalating.

There is plenty of traffic jams which definitely affects productivity, and the monopolized transport system, telco system and many other services in Singapore seem to seek profits rather than providing good service.

So now with "national conversation" where the government invites their own people to speak about national issues, shouldn't it be called echo chamber?

Jack Sim has pointed out many interesting observations and posted on the minister's Facebook wall. Will there be engagement or will the minister just censor and ignore the problem and pretend that everything is fine and dandy?

-- Iron Bowl

Monday, September 24, 2012

Singapore Formula One 2012

 No Tripods

Fake buildings

Huge Crowds and strangely, >50% foreigners?

Are Singaporeans supporting this event which cost hundreds of dollars to get in?

It certainly brings in tourism, but who exactly benefits from this?

Not me.

-- Iron Bowl

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is there anything real in Singapore anymore?

There is not doubt people turn out to see the Royal couples when they come to Singapore, but the show that was put on is simply outrageous. Old people practicing Taichi in the middle of the day, kids playing instead of being in tuition classes, aunties exercising (while the others taking photos are behind a barrier?)

Here's a pic from 9GAG

A few days ago, this is the turnout of people to receive the 2 Pandas. The Pandas are in a refrigerated truck, and the people do not even get a chance to catch a glimpse of the Pandas... Why do they even bother?

Then there is the $3,000 Dishwasher. (Ernst & Young is paying $2.7k/month for penetration testers (a software engineering role to find vulnerabilities in existing software systems).)

I guess you can understand what Singapore is like.

This is a Rikuzentakada Tree in Japan. I guess everyone knows what trees are.

This is a Singapore's Super Tree.

Nuff Said.

Would like to talk more about Lion Dance the royal couples saw, but bitch please, its the 7th month, no one does Lion Dance during this period. The activists if they had half a brain should get the couples to go visit our heritage site, Bukit Brown.

-- Iron Bowl