Tag Archive | CPF

The dress that took me places…

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dress that went places

.. and took me along with it…

I bought this dress out of sheer desperation because I was invited to a glitzy event on Apr 5 that demanded evening dress, as no less than the Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin would be Guest of Honour, plus a myriad talking heads that are fixtures in the media.

And I suspect, i might be sitting close to the main table, which turned out to be accurate — I was on the next table to GOH’s enlarged table. But then so were a couple of other tables, given the huge circumference of the GOH table.

Okay, what I bought isn’t strictly evening wear, in the sense that it isn’t black, floor length or gltizy. But hey, it’s a major concession for someone who mostly wears denim skirts, jackets, jeans or dresses, the operative adjective being denim.

So I bought the dress — mainly because of what the dress code demanded but also because believe it or not, I had functions on the two days following it, a rarity, as I’m no social butterfly .

So I bought the dress, as I could get the max bang out of the money spent, as i intended to – and did — wear the same dress to all three functions, because I was confident that none of the others going to the three functions would be “overlapping” guests.

I was right!

There was no buzz the first night, as there were many speeches, many strangers sitting with strangers and too many VVIP spotting for anyone, and I mean anyone, to pay attention to what I was wearing.. I could have ignored the dress code, something that I noticed quite a few in the 50+ tables gathering did..

It was different on the 2nd nite – Apr 6 — at old class mate HPC ‘s 70th birthday bash at Penang Place in Biopolis –  hosted by her myriad god-children. The party was so big that many PP regulars were driven to dine outside the restaurant!

Everyone thought me a bit formal– from the word go. NS who came to pick me up. Ditto LPC. And so on.

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Yup I should have been in denim :roll:

The dress was attention grabbing at the 3rd event for the right reason: JL celebrating the first spring of her first grand-kid at a high tea at Intercontinental at Bugis Junction.

Amidst all the singing and real babas and nyonyas dancing up a colorful storm, I was complimented by hostess JL and others, tho I was no competition at all for the star of the show: Anna Rose, all of 5 months!

Love, baby love!

Love, baby love!

It wasn’t the last outing for that dress. It got two more outings be4 it was sent into the wash. And if you wear the amount of Clinique’s Get Happy or Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise that I do, and go from aircon car to aircon malls and/or restaurants, then clothes can do several rounds be4 needing to meet the washing machine!

I kept the dress for a family lunch on Apr 10. We were going to ION but at the last moment opted for Plaza Singapura because I wanted to redeem the goodies in my Ichiban card!

Again, the law of co-incidences worked its magic for me. As we were finishing, a friend from CPF FBed me to say that Tim Ho Wan @ Plaza Singapura has opened — at last. A colleague had bought her some char siu bun that morning and they were delicious.

Had we gone to ION, I won’t have had the energy to dash over. But since I was in the same building, I decided to go pick up some of the buns while the rest of the family headed for the carpark where I promised to meet them within minutes. I’m the optimistic sort.

So it was with shock and surprise that I discovered the snaking line outside Tim Ho Wan. My heart jumped happily when told the takeaway queue was separate, believing it would be shorter.

I wasn’t wrong. It was shorter but each customer was limited to buying 5 buns! I consoled myself that as I wanted to buy 4 only, so being given 5 was a 25% bonus.

But the queue barely inched for 10 minutes. I soon found out why. An affable hunk with soothing voice and demeanour started explaining to potential customer by customer that all the buns had to be split between dine in and takeaway. Also, each tray that Chef Mak (founder of Tim Ho Wan)  baked contained only 20 buns. Oh yes, the restaurant was quite liberal with early bird takeaways, allowing customers to buy unlimited quantities. Hence the backlog in meeting demand. Hence the ration. :(

In short, Tim Ho Wan didn’t, couldn’t or won’t anticipate the demand on what was its opening day, a fact i didn’t know till I had joined the queue willy nilly!

The minutes passed; family members called from the carpark to demand what was keeping me…

Said hunk and a colleague decided to close the queue altogether, sending other hopefuls on their way.

A few behind me in the queue quietly melted away, probably because they had to go back to work. I deliberated mentally whether I should give in but the Tim Ho Wan hunk was still nattering on and I was optimistic that if I applied some antique charm on him, he might let me have my order ahead of the others. At minimum he would be moved by pity that this ditzy auntie actually entertained thoughts of charming a hunk?

It was no dice but mayb our “flirtatious” conversation was so asinine that it drove away whomever else were behind me in the line and I found myself the last in the queue with some 10 others ahead of me.

My turn came finally around 2.45pm and it was worth the wait. I decided to try my luck and asked for 10 buns instead of the rationed 5 and was happily surprised when with a nod from the hunk my request was filled.

It was worth the wait and the wrath of family members who didn’t appreciate being left to cool their heels for 45 minutes in and around the carpark while I queued! Although half of the loot I passed over to sister D did mollify her somewhat. :D

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golden buns

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still good to last bite after 3 hours!

Did my dress help in some supernatural way to get these golden buns? Or was it something else?

The next appearance of my dress may explain. :lol:

After four wearings, the dress was waiting its turn to be washed when I had to rush to the supermarket to pick up some essentials one late Saturday afternoon.

I grabbed it off the hanger, put it on and drove off to Clemeti Mall, thinking that such a big Fairprice Finest shouldn’t be too crowded. I was wrong. It was ren san, ren hai between the racks and at the check out lanes.

I was in a hurry and looking at my amount of purchases — not a lot and nothing wet or highly perishable — decided to die-die try the self-scan and check out lane.

Again, my trepidation was misplaced. A Fairprice sup came to my rescue. Not only that. She even gifted me with a spare “bonus point” voucher discarded by a previous customer and then took me through the paces.

It was easy peasy and I was so pleased with her thoughtful help that I grabbed a shot of her, to post on FB, Twitter and now in my blog. Good service should be acknowledged and publicised while the converse should at least be dissed thru word-of-mouth :lol:

3S = Sunita Service with a Smile

3S = Sunita Service with a Smile

 

So did this experience have anything to my much worn dress? Did it give out the sort of aura that made people want to help or be friendly to me? Was it the pastel shades or the soft draping material that softened my personality like a magic cloak?

I won’t know till I next wear it. But it will take me to more places for sure and give me more wear to make it worth the $59.90 I had paid for it :roll:

Step one to another 1985 recession?

When I read the article (see below) in Business Times yesterday about the much respected Prof Lim Chong Yah calling for wages for the lowly paid to rise by leaps n bounds over three years and at the same time to cap pays of $15K and above per month for the same period, I thought it was a belated April Fool’s joke.

So I copied the article and circulated it to the usual folks on my email-list with the heading “I don’t believe this!”

What was more unbelievable were two of the three replies I got.

First, from my elder brother, who wrote: “I think Prof Lim has proposed a jolly good idea. I’m sure true Singaporeans and foreigners with goodwill who earn $15000 and more per month will not mind a 3 year moratorium. The government should seriously consider this proposal.”

Second came from a friend with deep family ties to the PAP. :roll:

He wrote: “I actually agree in principle with what Prof Lim is trying to do. Since the PAP decided to make millionaires out of its ministers by using private sector remuneration to justify ministers’ pay, we have been grossly (and increasingly)  overvaluing the worth of those at the top and undervaluing that of the average Joe and those at the bottom ranks of our workforce.

“We copied this predatory practice from the US, which is quite different from the fairer and more social- centric compensation system of the European countries. It has resulted in an ever-widening income gap between the haves and have-nots,  which has been cleverly disguised as  the  effects of globalisation.

“And those articulating this bs are the same people who run our country and businesses – the latter hired guns, not entrepreneurs who put their own money on the line , and who are the direct beneficiaries of this predatory practice.  They also happen to control the press and other media, and there is a danger that this bs may morph into a mainstream value.

“As the saying goes, repeat a bs often enough and you begin to believe in your own bs. But increasing inequality in our society is not sustainable in the longer run, as social tensions must increase as a result, leading to more explosive implications for our society. Prof Lim is indeed a wise man in trying to shock us out of slipping into this malevolent stupor.”

I might have concluded that I am in the minority of one if not for another giddy headed old gal — and makan kaki– like moi who replied thus: “Yeh so what’s the point of me bringing my grand kid to go for kumon, Julia Gabriel in hope he can go to RI, Hwa Chong ha?Better to go for carpentry classes and maybe learn to cha kway teow!!! Come to think of it my part time maid could have come up with the scheme! What is his pay?? Jen the furious.”

Then I discovered that one dot.seng says it all for me. So no, I’m not in the minority in my reaction; certainly not of one; perhaps not even of 10,000!

But then, what’s the use, if the Government buys Prof Lim’s line of thinking and acts on it?

I shudder at that prospect, remembering that Prof Lim presided over the National Wages Council when the Government went on another high-wage policy binge. Hope we won’t see a repeat of that experiment in the early 1980s that led one establishment maverick to blast — after the event. :roll:

“The 1985 recession was a self-created recession. Between 1981-1985, we had a policy in government to uplift from no-skill to high-skill. What the government did was impose very high CPF. The CPF went up to 50%. All costs went up, but at the same time there was no incentive given to encourage companies to upgrade. Just pure punishment.”

Business Times – 10 Apr 2012

Lim Chong Yah suggests second wage revolution

3-year plan to cut income inequality, foreign labour use

By TEH SHI NING

(SINGAPORE) To tackle rising income inequality and an excessive reliance on cheap foreign labour, one prominent local economist is proposing a three-year restructuring plan that includes a wage freeze for top income earners and sizeable pay hikes for the lowest paid.

This ‘bold and iconoclastic’ proposal seeks to complete the wage revolution of 1979 to 1981, says Professor Lim Chong Yah. He helmed the National Wage Council (NWC) from 1972 to 2001 and as its founding chairman had a pivotal role in that first, radical three-year wage restructuring exercise.

Then, the NWC had recommended a 20 per cent across-the-board increase in wages a year, including higher contributions to Central Provident Fund accounts and to the Skills Development Fund, which grants companies training subsidies.

Speaking to an audience of about 50 at an Economic Society of Singapore public lecture yesterday, Prof Lim outlined another three-year solution to Singapore’s ‘two Achilles’ heels’ – the sharp rise in low-wage foreign workers and rising income inequality – while raising productivity.

This features a sizeable pay hike for the lowest-paid workers, regardless of nationality or age, earning less than $1,500 per month over three years. He proposes a cumulative 15 per cent rise in the first year, another 15 per cent in the second, and 20 per cent in the third. This increase would be channelled, in equal parts, to the worker’s take-home pay, his CPF Retirement Account, and the Skills Development Fund.

At the top end of the income ladder, Prof Lim proposes a three-year wage freeze for those earning $15,000 or more a month. But he stresses, the intention is not to ‘frighten the geese that lay the golden eggs’ as there will be no pay cut, pay ceiling or super-taxes imposed.

As for the middle income, he proposes pay hikes ranging from a quarter to a third of that received by the lowest-income group, part of which will go into the CPF Retirement Account. The government should also match contributions to the Skills Development Fund to demonstrate its commitment to the restructuring effort.

Prof Lim envisions all operating details of this proposal being discussed and decided on by the tripartite NWC, as was the case in 1979, to ‘forge consensus by the three tripartite social partners’.

He acknowledged readily that national economic restructuring is ‘much more difficult’ now than it was three decades ago, given the changed political, economic and socio-economic climate. But he thinks that Singapore still has effective tripartism and a government and civil service with integrity and ability, so what is needed is ‘national will’ in the face of ‘the problems of economic success’.

In response to questions from the floor, Prof Lim said that his proposed scheme is unlikely to have a significant negative impact on unemployment – now at record lows – and that high-quality foreign investment will continue to flow into Singapore in pursuit of strong fundamentals.

Asked about the pace he proposes, which seems swifter than the government’s target of a more gradual 30 per cent rise in median incomes in the 10 years till 2020, Prof Lim said that some ‘shock’ is needed to ‘check, halt and if possible reverse’ the rise in income inequality.

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved

Budget 2012: my mum’s been excluded…

… at least from the GST voucher, thanks to her living with me! I happen to live in a large though very run down apartment that for some strange reason the property tax folks deem to have a huge annual rental value for calculating property tax.

It disappoints me that the Government with its large and comprehensive database can’t sieve out the nil-asset owning, nil-income generating dependents from the person who owns the home and then give the dependents a share of this particular budget goodie.

This is especially when Budget 2012 is supposed to be inclusive and particularly elderly friendly and my mum is — I’m so blessed — 86 going on 87.

Which brings me to the $120 grant for seniors who aren’t able to cope by themselves. Based on the criteria as spelt out in the Straits Times, my mum probably won’t qualify for this either.

She can still feed herself, brush her teeth and use the toilet on her own — never mind that she only fulfils these tasks with much prompting.

And she can’t shower herself, even with much prompting, as her mind can’t process what must be done with the water and the soap after she’s undressed. Also, as she hangs for dear life with both hands on the grab bar to support her wobbly legs, how could she soap or rinse herself?

Furthermore, she’s been on Arricept, Exsalon and now Mermentine for close to six years — and that as any geriatrician would tell you ain’t meant to increase her appetite. :lol:

Perhaps she will benefit from the lifting of Medishield coverage from 85 to 90? But since she’s been booted out in 2010 when she turned 85 — what a nasty birthday present! — would she be invited to rejoin now she’s 2 months short of 87?

Or would she be asked to pay up for the two years she was without coverage in order to get back into the plan? If the latter, then I will say thanks but no thanks as it wasn’t her wish to get off Medishield in the first place. She was pushed out as she had reached the age limit of Medishield then.

I look forward to learning more from the upcoming Budget debate where exactly my mother stands in the latest “bonanza” for the elderly and then decide if the Budget has been that inclusive after all — at least where my mum’s concerned!

Two cheers for Budget 2011

One cheer for Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for raising public assistance, starting by pushing up the payment for single person households from $360 to $400.

The Ah Pek to whom I send dry groceries fortnightly will have a little something extra every month. Mayb he can splurge out on something nice at Boon Tiong Kee which runs a rather expensive outlet ($15 for half a small braised fishead!) on the first floor in the block next to his in Bendemeer.

Another cheer for scrapping the TV and radio licence. I particularly like its removal, because paying the annual licence has been a pain — after I was fined a draconian $20 for being late paying up a couple of years ago.

Worse, my tenant had giro’d me his amount for the flat he is staying in to pay on his behalf. As I paid my fee late, so I was late with his too and ended up having to pay his fine as well.

I don’t say three cheers for the Budget because I don’t like the way a private property owner continues to be “penalised” when it comes to our share of straight handouts with no strings attached.

Why should my and my mum’s medisave top up and growth bonus be the lowest among all Singaporeans just because we live in a certain category of private property?

This is one bug-bear I wish the Opposition would take up rather than sticking to yada-daing away for those in public housing.

Why should people who have worked hard to own private property be disadvantaged whereas those who don’t — despite working hard too, presumably — are given more?

Isn’t that an implicit way of encouraging more Singaporeans to be less successful?

OK, I’m not suggesting that the garmen should practise the principle of  “those who have will have more given them; and from those who have not, even what they have will be taken away.”

This said, garmen especially at Budget time, should show more clearly that we are all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion — or type of home-ownership!

Stand Up for S’pore again!

On Thursday, a certain Mr Victor Khoo wrote to the Straits Times Forum page to say that i’ts the song that matters not the singer, with reference to the rather strange — if not wasteful – custom that’s become standard fare for our annual National Day celebrations: far from memorable newly minted “National Day” songs.

Mr Khoo declared “There is nothing wrong with the two classics, Count On Me Singapore and Stand Up For Singapore, which are inspirational and tug at the heartstrings.”

To which, judging from the support he’s got in today’s Forum page, many Singaporeans  say “amen”.  I join them.

Count on Me and Stand Up certainly tug at my heart strings, as compared to the effete Home which could refer to any place, anywhere, not necessarily Singapore.

If I remember correctly Count on Me and Stand Up came into being in the mid 80s when Singapore suffered its then worst ever recession, after jacking up CPF rates to unprecedented levels in an attempt to raise productivity and force industries to upgrade.

Anyway, all that’s history.

Singapore has become more sophisticated and with sophistication came goose bumps of a different kind when overtly patriotic songs like Count and Stand were sung.

Opinion leaders in Singapore declared the songs jingoistic, nationalistic, in short country bumpkin which didn’t sit well with those Singaporeans who thought of themselves as global citizens first, and Singaporeans second.

And believe it or not, our consultative Government actually bought that argument. Hence the run of low-key songs apres Count and Stand.

I’m delighted that Singaporeans are now more comfortable with what we are, so that we are daring to stand up for the songs that declare our love for our country overtly, instead of doing it covertly, with cutesy singers with soft focus backgrounds.

If the Brits can still sing with gusto Rule Britannia and the Labour Party the Red Flag in the 21st century, I don’t see why Singaporeans can’t continue to Stand Up and Count for Singapore unabashedly?

Call this service recovery?

I didn’t expect to hear any more from the chirpy young lady who featured in my post yesterday, relating the bad service moments I took full on the chin from UOB.

But I wasn’t so lucky. After lunch, when I was still out with mum and her maid, chirp-chirp called on my mobile to ask whether I still wanted the new notes from her or had I got them from DBS Bank.

I’m sure she didn’t mean to be sarcastic but reference to DBS Bank was totally uncalled for.

I told her that I had no need for her help any more, as the deadline for her to call back was yesterday and she didn’t do that.

She chirped:”Oh but yesterday I didn’t get clearance for you to pick up your cash where you wanted. I’ve got clearance today.”

Told her that I managed to get someone at her Main branch to let me have the new notes. I regretted saying that almost as soon as the words came out. Oh, why did I have to show off? This was especially when she replied in amazement:” You mean they agreed?”

She sounded as if she had tried and they said “no”.

I felt alarmed. I didn’t want any interference from her side to my bilateral arrangement with the Main branch. I don’t want any cock-up when i go pick up the notes.

So I said quickly:” Please, miss, you have done enough already. Just let things be. I don’t want any confusion.”

She said OK and rang off.

I’m still uneasy.

I hope I will get to collect my notes without aggro.

Because if I don’t, what can I do — immediately I mean? (In the long term, I know what I’ll do… ).

I should have been born a PRC woman because then I would throw caution to the winds and have a showdown in the banking hall. Perhaps a siege? Or demand a cake (from Cedele?) as compensation, even tho it isn’t my birthday?

But I jest.

Closing all accounts in disgust will only be cutting my nose to spite my face as over the years I’ve allowed my money to grow roots in various services offered by UOB.

It’s no easy task to yank out everything at once, even if I’m willing to pay the penalties. Also, the various GIRO links, from the tax man to the CPF, as collectors for MOM, club dues etc: I’ve to cut and relink them to other banks’ accounts, and that takes time and timing, if I don’t want to be fined for repeated failed GIRO deductions!

This stickiness of long-term banking relations may explain why some banks, or at least UOB in my current experience, treat their old-old customers with barely concealed contempt while running multi-million $ campaigns to lure new ones.

Finally, I’ve still not found out why UOB assigned me to its branch, first in Coronation Plaza and now in Orchard Road, without any consultation. After all, if I had opened my account in the Main branch, it must mean i want to bank there, no?