I am curious… but not yellow…

so will ask the Ministry of National Development and other ministries, agencies, statutory boards or what have you to please let me and other equally kay poh Singaporeans know

1) MND’s reply (see below) –to one of Mediacorp’s several questions ignited by the seemingly lousy debt collecting ability of the Workers Party when it came to the s&CC of households in its Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council –makes me hungering for more.

MND, do give a total breakdown of just how many 1, 2, 3 and 4 room flats there are, instead of lumping them into 3-room and smaller and 4-roomers. And don’t stop at just four Town Councils! Please give statistics for all 16 Town Councils.

That way, kay pohs on both sides of the divide — pro-PAP and pro WP — will see the exact picture of who gets what and how much. Then can better compare and contrast.

Shouldn’t be a Herculean task as I’m sure all the needed data are in the MND or the HDB’s database.

2) Other stuff that I am curious about is crime statistics. Not where crimes are committed but which town council has the dubious reputation of having the most residents calling Changi prison home at one time or another in their life.

Breakdown of their crimes too would be great for then we will know which crime flavour — murder, assault, molest, cheating, CBT, arson, you get the picture — permeates the air of which TC.

3) Another set of numbers that should prove interesting is which TC has the most residents depending on public assistance.

4) On the plus side, I would like to know which TC has nurtured the most government scholars and the most graduates. Good too if we are told whether any TC is the best breeding ground for Singapore politicians. Or where they would move to once they get into Parliament.

While Singapore and the world now knows that 1 in 3 residents in AHPETC didn’t pay-won’t pay-can’t pay their S&CC bills, it would be interesting to uncover if Tanjong Pagar Town Council is where most of our politicians live :lol:

Question: How is the S&CC Operating Grant computed?

MND Answer: The S&CC operating grant is allocated to all Town Councils (TCs) based on the number of HDB flat units and the flat types. Smaller flat types get higher grants.

The grant enables TCs to subsidise the S&CC for residents living in 4-room and smaller flats, with more being allocated for 1-room (S$33.70 per month), 2-room (S$26.20 per month) and 3-room (S$17.00 per month) households. The grant for each 4-room household is S$9.00 per month.

This grant formula has been in place since 1999, and is applied consistently to all TCs. S&CC grants are not based on the number of voters, nor does it apply to private property residents. TCs will receive more grants if they have more and smaller HDB flat types.

Ang Mo Kio TC and Tanjong Pagar TC receive more grants than AHPETC because they have more and smaller HDB flats. Ang Mo Kio has 89,127 HDB flats, of which 39 per cent are 3-room or smaller. Tanjong Pagar has 75,050 HDB flats, of which 59 per cent are 3-room or smaller. In comparison, AHPETC has 71,760 flats, of which only 29 per cent are 3-room or smaller. Likewise, even though Chua Chu Kang has about the same number of HDB flats (71,348) as AHPETC, Chua Chu Kang receives less S&CC grant (S$4.9 million compared to AHPETC’s S$7.2 million), because only 12 per cent of its flats are 3-room or smaller.

Red for MND town council press release…?

due to a misleading phrase about Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East’s inability to collect S&CC money from households in the Opposition Workers Party controlled ward in a timely manner.

Tell me what would you think when you read this in the Ministry of National Development’s FY2013 Town Council Management Report: “Under S&CC arrears management, the sharp decline in the TC’s S&CC arrears situation is of grave public concern”.

Sharp decline in the TC’s S&CC arrears situation. I did a double take. Isn’t that good? Well no apparently as the following four words “of grave public concern” show.

Then alamak! I get it. The news release writer had meant “sharp deterioration in the TC’s S&SCC situation”. Why didn’t anyone correct him or her?

It reminds me of a misunderstanding I just had with one my mother’s helpers.

Yesterday was raining heavily and as I had many purchases that mustn’t get wet, I called ahead hoping one of the helpers would come down to the car porch and take up the shopping as I live in a crumbling 50 year old condo which has no sheltered parking.

The phone rang endlessly but no one picked it up. Tried again and again and then gave up.

Stormed up to the flat annoyed yet fearful. What if something like Nightmare on Elm Street had happened to all three?

I needn’t have worried. All three were fast asleep.

One helper on hearing me shut the front door came out from mum’s room blinking away her afternoon nap.

After I checked the landline and found that it hadn’t been switched off I asked: “Why didn’t you answer the phone when I called?”

She muttered something that made me close to ballistic.

“If you heard the phone ringing why didn’t you answer?” I demanded between clenched teeth.

She repeated what she said earlier.

“Why didn’t you answer phone? Phone!!”

She looked confused. And damn it! She repeated once more what she first said.

I told myself to keep calm. I thought of Gandhi. Mahatma. When you are in the right etc etc..

It was only at dinner that I realised what the most recent addition to the household (2nd helper was hired only in July; Picky Siti has been with us for 7 years) had said.

“I here! I here!”, meaning she was in mum’s aircon room. Not “I hear! I hear!”

Which brings me back to the MND’s press release. It’s OK for a newly arrived Myanmar FDW to cause confusion with her mangling of English. Not for an official release writer.

This brings now to the MND’s Town Council specifics about those arrears.

Aljunied’s S&CC arrears rate rose from 2.6% in FY10 to 8.4% in FY11 and FY12, after Aljunied merged with Hougang. These rates were significantly above the national norm of about 3%.

In December 2012, the TC committed to improve the TC’s arrears situation. However, its S&CC arrears rate had further increased to 29.4% as at end Apr 2013.

What effect does MND hope to have on discerning Singaporean voters with these revelations?

Would this seeming inability to collect what is due to the AHPETC make them shake their heads and vow never should this brand of incompetency be allowed to run our country?

Or would the revelations make some among the discerning voters think one or all of the following:

1) There must be a concentration of poor people in AHPETC

2) There must be a concentration of canny skivvers in AHPETC who are able to keep delaying paying what they owe

3) Those who want to be successful should move far away from AHPETC for poverty and dishonest skivving could be as infectious as SARS

4) Those running AHPETC must have hearts of gold to hold back from driving those unable to pay to the wall. Thus demonstrating a caring spirit that others only mouth.

I wonder which of these my dear regular readers will pick? :roll:

If the last then I fear for the future of the PAP.

So young and so kind!

Three wonderful encounters on Saturday Nov 1 (due to it being All Saints’ Day?) left me hopeful that SG’s future has a good chance of remaining or even bettering today’s generally kind nation.

First, I was at the Kwan Im Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street to do my usual thing. After a few minutes inside the temple, I left and saw, as I made way towards Fortune Centre, a few young kids offering a lunch box to a tissue seller. They had some persuading to do!

The kids couldn’t be more than 12, possibly younger. But they were earnest in harassing the tissue uncle to accept their food. And it wasn’t a once-off gesture. The same kids repeated it with another tissue seller.

I am not sure if it’s a “movement” involving more children or just those three I saw. Whatever it is, I am happy to witness the kind acts, unlike the usual donation drive vultures — usually young adults — who ask for money for this or that needy cause, in SG or elsewhere, quite oblivious to the very needy right next to or in front of them.

Earlier on, before I entered the temple, I was touched and humbled to see a father showing his little boy how to pay for the tissue paper they bought from a wheel chair bound woman seller. He held the kid’s small hands which were holding a $2 note and together father and son offered their cash with overt sincerity and respect.

I wish more parents would be so hands-on in teaching their offspring the right way to do a kind deed.

The third kind gesture by a young kid had me at the receiving end.

After the temple and a few other errands I went to VivoCity in search of Pat’s Oven which sells exactly the sort of nuts I like to eat.

While there, I decided to do some shopping at Cold Storage.

Bad idea as my car was parked on the 2nd level and the supermarket was in the basement!

Added to that bad move was another one of choosing to use a basket instead of a trolley which saw me joining a slow moving Q humping a heavy basket that I had to be put down and then lift up as one more customer ahead of me paid for his/her purchases. And I inched up the Q.

I was just two customers away from the cashier when the kid — he looked no more than 16!! and I am at an age when anyone under 32 is a kiddo! — immediately ahead of me in the Q turned and said: “I carry up your basket for you after I pay?” (meaning he would help me put my basket on the belt for the cashier to tally).

“Yes, please,” I replied. Surprised and pleased. Especially when earlier I had snarled at him and his mates who though not buying anything were fooling around their friend.

“Eh, got eggs in my basket — if one of you fall, who will pay for the broken eggs, ah?”

His mates muttered apologies and disappeared.

His subsequent offer in the context of what went on before is therefore doubly kind.

Oh yes, his name is Jonathan! :D!

Pioneer perks and pains

First, I was pleasantly surprised today when I visited my GP — an ex-neighbour with a clinic in Bukit Batok — to consult about a suddenly super itchy throat and occasional coughing.

After the consultation and receiving three types of medication, I was told that no payment was needed as I hold a Pioneer Generation card. :)

Second, I was pleasantly surprised again at the Bishan Fairprice Finest outlet to be told that I would get a discount on my purchases if I had a Pioneer card. This was the Monday bonus for us Pioneers!

Well, I have and showed it with alacrity.

Only to be told: “And now your IC”.

Huh? Why an IC?

The cashier auntie deadpan: “to confirm you aren’t using someone else’s Pioneer card.”

I duly showed my IC but the pleasure that Mr Lim Swee Say hoped to give us Pioneers was destroyed in one go.

For heaven’s sake. It’s only a 3% discount!!

Would I, or anyone, be so desperate to get 66 cents off our bills (that’s my discount) as to borrow someone’s Pioneer card? And if someone elderly (but doesn’t belong to the Pioneer Generation) and so desperate would it kill Fairprice to let them have that discount just once or twice?

Today’s request reminded me of the days when I was asked for my bus pass to prove that I qualify for the Tuesday 2% elderly discount, even though I have a union member card.

As I don’t have a bus pass, I had to show my IC. There were even a couple of times at an outlet with unbending cashier aunties when I was refused a discount with my IC as the bus pass was the stipulated proof!

Thank goodness that ridiculous demand has long become history.

Hopefully our good Lim Swee Say will now mandate those who man cash machines at Fairprice be more flexible and not ask for our IC. If nothing else that is showing true respect for Pioneers and not start by implying we would be so cavalier with our Pioneer privilege from NTUC as to let others use our card.

Pleasure that G funding gives

Even though I can afford to buy my own lunch, it’s always a pleasure to be given a free lunch by anyone, so long as that someone isn’t an arch enemy or even worse.

Thus it gave me much pleasure to receive $190 worth of G funding for use on my mother — that amount paid 95% of the cost of having a senior staff nurse come to my home to train one of our two  helpers to look after mum, now that she’s bed ridden and completely incapable of looking after herself in every way.

This was arranged by the Ministry of Health’s Agency for Integrated Care.

In addition, AIC helped mum get a monthly $100, starting this month, because she’s unable to look after herself.

However, we don’t qualify for any other subsidy or help as our home has an annual value above $21K.

Strangely, though, she could have gotten more if we rented out our home and instead lived in rented premises.

Or if I was still working and earned just enough to be in the income category which enjoys G subsidies including Workfare and what have you. By working, it’s income that counts, not the annual value of the home.

All quite whacky and convoluted. But me not to reason why. I am not G.

Makes me wonder if it’s time to go back to work. Perhaps part-time at Fairprice where I keep seeing posters begging for full and part time cashiers and store assistants?

And perhaps falling into the Government’s “trap” of getting more elderly Singaporeans to rejoin the workforce?

Still, after some subsidy having come our way– though not all subsidies that I think my mum should be entitled to since she’s already 89 — I really shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Neigh!! :roll:

Why ever not, Mr Khaw?

I refer to the enhanced Lease Buy Back Scheme for HDB owners that our dear Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan just announced in Parliament. So much flexibility… Yet one sticking point remains. I refer to the oral answer MND gave in reply to an MP’s question which to wit (and to woo?) asked: “For the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme, whether HDB will consider relaxing restrictions on (i) the sale and subletting of the flat; and (ii) the minimum occupation period.”

The answer is: The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) provides seniors who wish to continue staying in their home, an option to monetise their flat for additional retirement income. If they have spare bedrooms, they can also sublet them after taking up the LBS. Those who wish to move out and sell or sublet their whole flat can already do so without the LBS. We do not have plans to relax the minimum occupation period which is applied to the purchase of all HDB flats.”

I refer to the words I’ve put in bold. They miss the point entirely. If I were a senior with the good fortune to own an HDB flat and wish to monetise a part of the value via the LBS and further monetise the asset by letting out the whole flat, why can’t I? And say, if I were an HDB owning senior who also enjoys the privilege of owning a private property — a bonus accorded only to HDB owners — I will have the option of living in my private apartment, won’t I? So why can’t I rent out the whole of my HDB flat while taking a bite of the new LBS cherry? Even if I don’t own a private pad but want to rent out the whole of my HDB flat while I sleep in the common corridor or void deck, why cant I? I am only maximising the underlying value of my HDB asset without parting with it!! I shouldn’t be deprived of this option. In fact, I think I should be given a pinggat that I have found a way to hold on to my HDB cake and eat it, while watching my cash hoard grow :roll:

Why can’t government benefits be simple?

Asking this because my mother, a member of the Pioneer Generation, just got a letter from the director, healthcare finance division, Ministry of Health, informing her that the subsidy for PGs doesn’t apply to private patients using specialist outpatient clinics (SOC) at our public hospitals.

If mum wishes to enjoy the subsidy, the director said, then she should ask the specialist outpatient clinic she’s been using for help. She is also reminded once she switches to subsidised SOC, she won’t be able to choose her own doctor.

Then I just heard Dr Amy Khor, the MOH’s Senior Minister of State, suggesting on TV news that those who want to get subsidised SOC should go to their Polyclinic or their GP for the referral.

Hello, I thought. Why make things more complicated than they need be for elderly sick folks?

Why not just allow those in the Pioneer Generation who want to remain private patients at SOC get a subsidy too but capped at $28.50 — the same amount that they are allowed when they go to see their GP.

This way, it would save much time and hassle for all on both sides of the subsidy — those receiving it and those giving it.

I am sure those PG-ers who have been using private SOCs would welcome the subsidy — which isn’t a lot compared to what consultants and senior consultants at public hospitals already charge.

But it would be a very nice gesture and affirms that the nation really values the Pioneer Generation, whether they have made it or not!