Play Desdamona in big cities!

Oftentimes, the BBC’s “From Our Own Correspondents” program gets my goat. This is because more often than not, what the correspondents write and/or verbalise on air are nothing more than impressions, anecdotes and completely subjective.

Worse, more often than not, instead of taking these “personal impressions” with a pinch of salt, fans of the Beeb take what its correspondents including “stringers” — that is free-lancers wanting to earn a quick buck — write as gospel truth.

Worst is when the citizens of the country, born and bred, take what these Beeb flighty free-lancers say about their own homeland — or island as our case is — as the starting point for deep soul searching.

But lagi worse than worst (if there is a fourth degree of “bad”) is when our government ministers (Tan Chuan-Jin and Lawrence Wong) who should have more between their ears than most Singaporeans (I hope anyway) can actually come out and endorse what’s been said by no more qualified an observer than a Beeb freelancer :roll:

And by their endorsement adds to that very graphic Chinese proverb about using the bamboo pole to hit a boatload of innocent people.

I am of course referring to the account given by one Charlotte Ashton who appears to have lived in SG for all of 3 months and who because of one incident has written as though the other 1001 kindly acts she’s encountered don’t matter.

And trust our SPH Sunday Times to go to town with this woman’s complaint. And trust our sometimes sung-yang ministers to endorse or at least agree that one person’s bad experience means all of us could do better — on the courtesy and consideration front.

I am completely flummoxed that the ST or the ministers didn’t ask whether Ms Ashton had opened her mouth and said “help” in the best of clipped Brit accent? Or whether her pregnancy wasn’t that obvious at 10 weeks? Two points that this blogger raised with no sweat and which I heartily endorse.

Did Ms Ashton ask for a seat and was ignored? If that’s the case, why didn’t she state it in her article? Was she too sick to ask? If so, couldn’t she have used hand signals?

Someone should tell her that playing Desdamona in any big city, not only SG, will help her to avoid the same experience she complained of here, 90% of the time. Hasn’t she heard of the cliche that there is only the quick and the dead in New York?

Also, sometimes people are wary of attractive Caucasian women who suddenly curl up into a ball in a crowded public place. Who knows if it’s for real or for Candid Camera or Gotcha and the Good Samaritan is made a fool for cheap laughs and audience ratings!

Anyway, I find that whenever I ask, I always receive. In supermarkets, when I can’t reach the top shelves, I ask men and tall women fellow customers for help and haven’t been refused once. Some even ask politely if there’s anything else that I need on those elusive shelves. :lol:

On the MRT and buses, I often get seats without asking. The offers come from both sexes in age that ranges from kids to uncles and aunties who can’t be that much younger than me.

And when I am carrying stuff, I ask right away when there are no empty seats and I have several stops to go. But I am sometimes pre-empted by offers as soon as I step into the bus or MRT carriage. Perhaps because I tend to wear a Desdamona-like look?

When I am driving and need to change lanes, which given the non-stop roadworks in SG nowadays, is often, I look into the back mirror and side mirrors to smile my request to drivers behind and beside me. In addition to signalling of course. I often also clasp my hands in supplication to underline my request.

Fellow drivers give way almost 100% of the time and the insignificant minority who don’t I decide probably need to be on their way urgently and not because they suffer from compassion deficit.

In Hongkong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Bali, even in San Francisco and New York, I ask for directions, if I am uncertain rather than work it out myself. Ditto in my own country, because I don’t have a google map in my brain.

At the end of the day, if you need help, you must ask, unless you are comatose.

Finally, what does it say about the courtesy level of the guest who disses the host country so publicly and petulantly when by her own account it was all hunky dory till that incident.

Time people like Ms Ashton learn that into lives some rain must fall. So carry an umbrella or quit belly-aching!

Judge, law professor & morality

First, let me say that I don’t know either the judge, Woo Bih Li, or the successful appellant ex-law professor, Tey Tsun Hang, from a bar of soap.

But I must say Tey’s acquittal is to me as expected as Monday follows Sunday. The case against him, the salacious details notwithstanding, appeared to me as weak as tea brewed from 10X re-used tea bags :roll:

It was clear the so-called “victim” was head-over-heels about the prof. So what if she gave him her body, her heart and a Mont Blanc pen. Perhaps even an expensive dinner? Is that corruption, in the legal sense of the word?

Did she want good grades from him? Most certainly but not because he favoured her or that it’s an expression of his love. My take is she wanted him to love her for herself. She wanted good grades to win his approval, not just good grades per se or because she paid “bribes” for them.

In my view, women in such situations want to be intellectually worthy of their paramours, when the paramour obviously has better qualifications at the stage when their relationship blossomed.

So Darinne Ko would work hard for those grades. Whether she is capable of achieving good grades through her brain power and hard work is of course another story. Since most of us are differently endowed when it comes to passing formal exams.

So a major fail for the Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye who in the words of Justice Woo “was wrong to equate morally reprehensible conduct with what is legally wrong”.

And a major fail for the state also for bringing such a case to trial. Did no one in CPIB see how weak the evidence was? And if the ex-prof was considered to have crossed the line in corruption, shouldn’t Ms Ko have been charged for providing inducements?

I wonder how much it cost tax payers to investigate and prosecute Mr Tey? Equal to how many meals for the down and out that Willing Hearts or Chope Food could provide?

Finally, I don’t think Justice Woo acquitted himself too well either by making gratuitous remarks about the ex-prof’s behaviour.

“Although the appellant may consider my decision has vindicated him, I vindicate him of the charges only. This court does not condone the way he abused his position,” he said. Or the way he had conducted his defence.

My problem with the judge’s remarks is this: whether or not what Mr Tey — or indeed what Ms Ko — did is condoned, isn’t for the court to decide. Courts are for deciding what’s legal and what’s illegal, like he said.

Matters of morality or the lack of it should be left to the courts of public opinion.

And frankly, while I found Mr Tey’s defence tiresome and theatrical, what would anyone who finds himself wrongly accused do?

Mr Tey at least served the sentence meted out to him, fair or foul :lol:

And lost his quarter of a million $ job :cry:

How to match Govt’s $8bn Pioneer Package

The Government is setting aside $8bn — to self grow to $9bn — to kick start a Pioneer Generation package that will fund much of the health care needs of Singaporeans, born or recruited, so long as they were born in 1949 or earlier.

It occurred to me that we the people of Singapore can actually match and even surpass that giving over the next 30 years (guess by then 99% of the Pioneer Generation would have gone back to the stars!), if we really put our mind to it.

And we needn’t look to the rich and powerful exclusively for this miracle.

Instead, do it the $2 a day way. (Why $2 a day? Read my post here)

If 450,000 (the magic number in the Pioneer Generation) people living in SG were to give $2 a day to a needy stranger, it means $900K would be handed out daily.

Multiply that by 365 days, that would be about $330 million given out a year. Multiply that by 10 years, that would be $3.3 billion. Multiply that by 30 years, that would be $9.9 billion.

On paper, the sums work out beautifully.

In reality, the devil is in getting as many as 450,000 people here to give $2 every day, even if I am not expecting exactly the same 450,000 donors day in and out!

This is because 450,000 folks are 3 times the size of Ang Mo Kio or about 150,000 families. A mammoth number to mobilise on a daily basis by any yardstick! :roll:

The other devil is finding the 450,000 needy persons to receive the $2 (or more) everyday.

Because say what we like against the PAP G, there just aren’t 450,000 needy people in SG, however hard we look. Even under the SMRT tracks. :lol:

But a more do-able number may be to target 45,000 needy folks with $2 gifts?

Pioneer generation gift I want…

… but unlikely to get…

I don’t know whom people like Madam Halimah Yacob has been talking to but as a member of the so-called Pioneer Generation — phew I just made it — I don’t particularly want my medical needs to be supported by the G as a gesture of the nation’s gratitude to me having been there and done that — whatever that might have been to make SG what it is today.

The real gift I want from the Government won’t cost tax payers a cent from their pockets but would benefit people like me.

I think the best “relief” the G can give “pioneer” Singaporeans is to allow those of us who own private property to buy HDB resale again and not charge any ABSD whether it’s my second or sixth property.

That way, it ensures a level playing field between Singaporean HDB owners (who are still allowed to buy private) and Singaporean private property owners from the “pioneer” generation.

By opening the door to more buyers for the HDB resale market, it gives HDB owners wanting to upgrade a bigger pool of buyers to tap. Also, it will give those “pioneers” who already own both HDB and private an added option: they can once again sell their HDB and know they can get back into the resale HDB market, if the need arises. Otherwise such potential suppliers of HDB resale units might be paralysed into inaction.

OK, Government, give those who don’t want this option their medical benefits till death. But give others who may have enough rainy day medical savings the option to buy HDB — which we enjoyed till a couple of years ago.

Go on, Tharman, show that you are a true maverick who can really think out of the box in Budget 2014 :lol:

$2 can buy happiness!

I was at the Kwan Im Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street on Feb 5, after a sumptuous lunch at the Ritz Carlton, courtesy of the Association of Banks in Singapore which always throws a grand event to mark Chinese New Year.

And I always like to go to the Waterloo Street temple when I am feeling good, après or before events that make me feel good.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, what I witnessed before I entered the temple — and after I left it – made me feel even more at peace with the world.

I saw a handful of uncles, aunties, young men and women, handing out $2 notes to the elderly and sometimes handicapped tissue paper sellers who are always around the temple.

Some took the tissues in exchange. Others just gave outright.

Why did I feel good to witness such gifting?

Because it’s always my view that most of us can spare $2 to someone apparently in need. Better to be cheated by 10 fakes than let a genuine needy case go unassisted. Better to be cheated by fakes of $2 a piece than by one mega-fake about which we keep reading in the Straits Times :lol:

I hope my $2 non-campaign campaign would catch on.

Most of us can’t spare anyone a million bucks but there must be at least 450,000 Singaporeans who can spare $2 a day for a needy stranger?

Meanwhile do read (below) what I shared with some friends who were knocking our G for not being able to clear the poverty mass from our view.

Me: We all can rave, rant and rate G lowly for the continuing mass of poor in our midst. But didn’t Jesus himself say the poor will always be with us when Martha rebuked Mary Magdalene for wasting money on precious oil to anoint the Son of God, when the money according to Martha could have been better spent on the poor?

And he is not wrong: the poor will always be with us, because in a pyramid, the base will always be larger than the apex. Also, if you think of it, the Bible also says, to those who have, more will be given.

It’s pure maths. The rich having a critical mass will naturally become richer, even if they do no more than sit on their backsides. The poor even if they work hard may not make a lot of headway — or not the same amount of headway unless they experience a windfall through their own acumen or through pure random luck.

I think the more effective way to help this naturally skewed distribution is for those of us who can spare a little is to arm oneself with plenty of $2 notes n give to the ah mahs n ah peks one comes across in all corners of SG to buy snax n kopi. U wld b surprised how they all accept gratefully, if you treat the “gift” as a treat rather than a hand out!”


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Raffles Medical bill rises 40%

Apropos my previous post concerning Ministry of Manpower’s snail mail to me — even a snail would have made it faster than 11 days IMHO — I managed to get Picky Siti off for her medical check up yesterday.

I was in for a minor shock when she presented me with the bill from Raffles Medical.

Hello, the check up which consisted of a blood and urine test and a brief examination by the doctor came to $37.45!

OK not an earth shattering amount going by what we have to pay doctors nowadays.

But when compared to what was paid for the same routine check up on July 13 this year, at the same Raffles Medical clinic, there has been an increase of gasp 40%!

No wonder Singapore is getting to be known more as a super expensive city than a fun one!

Inflation? More like hyperinflation to me! :cry: