Tag Archive | singapore girl

Coward & snob

… that’s what I am.

This is the conclusion I came to after I reflected sadly in recent days over how I let a high society dame swipe $50 from me in the name of charity when all I wanted was buy a book for $20.

Why didn’t I say “no” when I handed her a $50 note, fully expecting to receive my change, but she said, “Lucia” ever so sweetly and insincerely, “you want to donate the balance to the scholarship fund?”

I actually had no such intention or inclination but I was so taken aback at her audacity that I was at a loss for words momentarily. Then I said “OK” somewhat weakly and unenthusiastically. She, the brazen fund raiser, said a brief “thanks” and was already “charming” the next sucker before I could even gather my wits together to demand a carrier bag for the $20 book for which I had paid a reluctant extra $30.

Now contrast this with the firm folded palms “salem” and “no, thank you” I always dish out to volunteers at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital who invariably gather at the start or end of the hospital’s main escalators trying to sell stuff to raise money for needy patients.

Why can I say no to needy patients when I could allow myself to be intimidated to part with $30 ($50-$20 for the book)?

I can only put that down to cowardice. I was instinctively afraid to offend the high society dame. I was afraid to say “no” and make her lose face since there were many people around. And possibly I was also afraid that the people milling around would consider me mean or couldn’t spare the extra money.

Yup, like it or not, I want acceptance even from people I don’t particularly care about or strangers that I don’t even know.

Then why was I so brave to turn down fund solicitors at TTSH?

Guess I go to the hospital on such a regular basis that I have already grown callouses on my heart. I am less afraid of the volunteers thinking me mean since droves on either side of me also say no or just ignore them. At least I acknowledge their request — even if I don’t give in.

And worst of all, I probably value the opinions of the volunteers less than I do the fellow guests at the book launch, even though the majority were as unknown to me as I to them. But socially I most likely placed them subliminally above the hospital fund raisers.

Which makes me a snob of the worst kind. And a coward to boot!

Since I have for some time decided not to donate to organised charity — a decision taken long before the NKF and Renci sagas among others but strengthened in the wake of the scandals — I should have been as firm with the society dame as I am with knick knack fund raisers.

But I wasn’t.

So I resolve to do better the next time a well heeled tai-tai tries to intimidate me into parting with my money, or at least more than I want to!

Prepare yourselves, GE is nearer than you think?

OK, I’m no political pundit. Nor an academic in political science who should be better able to read the political tea leaves than your average auntie. I also don’t move in the circles of great thinkers and insiders in Singapore’s elite political sphere..

But to parody the Wet Wet Wet song, I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. GE’s all around me, and so the feeling grows; it’s written in the wind; it’s everywhere I go..

.. that the next General Election for Singapore, IMHO, is a lot nearer than all the august big brains — Eugene Tan, Bertha Henson, Kit Wei Ching, Song Seng Wun to name a few — in our midst have been predicting.

“The bet is that it will be late next year or early 2016 to take advantage of the SG50 hype,” said Bertha, while Song thought the PAP would prefer to concentrate on the SG50 festivities for most of 2015.

Then they say there are the contentious and likely amendments to the Broadcasting Act and Town Council Act to get out of the way be4 the next poll.

Ditto the thoughts of some acquaintances of mine who appear to run with the in-politics crowd.

These give all sorts of reasons why GE won’t be before SG is done with its SG50 celebrations, as more goodies have to be distributed first be4 the ballot papers are handed out :roll:

Still, the consensus of the knowledgeable is that the polls will be called a good year before the government’s use by date of January 2017. Their forecasts grow granular around the months of September to December 2015, or at latest January 2016.

I beg to differ, not least because of what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the PAP’s 6oth birthday last Sunday.

He said the next general election will be a “deadly serious” fight between the PAP and the opposition and that “every seat, every GRC, every SMC will be contested. Every seat, every contest will be a national contest, not a local one. Every seat is a general election, not a by-election.”

Wasn’t PM stating the obvious? When had the PAP ever gone into a GE without making it a “deadly serious” fight with the Opposition? When had it not contested “every seat, every GRC, every SMC”? When had it ever treated a national election as anything but a national contest and a general election, not a by-election.”

If it isn’t a GE rally speech, I don’t know what is.

To me it was clear as a bell that the Sec-Gen of the PAP was signalling to the party faithful that GE isn’t months but possibly only weeks away and so better be battle-ready.

As for the feel good effect of SG50 softening even the most hardened of the Singaporean hearts that are against the PAP, I feel PM had better take a cue from what happened to Churchill after he won the war. The epitome of British leadership lost the election immediately afterwards.

Instead if  PM chooses to go to the people before SG50 celebs take off, what better way could there be for the PAP to celebrate 50 years of nationhood than for the PAP to collect yet another resounding victory at the polls.

I hope I am right as I can’t see PM and most of his cabinet ministers continuing to rush around for another year as they have been doing this year at myriad functions that seek to thank this, that and the other besides the Pioneer Generation!

If nothing else, some of them will collapse from exhaustion while others because of their packed please-the-people schedules will have no choice but to let their portfolio run on auto pilot.

Not a good state or slate to go into election battle surely?

So shall I bet my Pioneer Generation Card against your SICC card that the January 19 2015 sitting for this Parliament will be its last :lol:

Want to pay also don’t want to accept!

This was what I encountered on Friday, Nov 28, when I went to pay my M1 and Starhub bills at Bugis Junction. And it wasn’t the first time either.

What got me wholly cheesed off was that I had gone to BJ specifically to pay those bills so other errands that I wanted to run at the same mall were secondary considerations.

I went to M1 first and like recent visits, was told to use the self service machine to make payment.

Oh all praise to M1’s attempt at efficiency but I prefer the smiley faced sister who used to attend to me. Because in reality, the self service machine wasn’t that efficient.

Here’s why.

I have two mobile lines. One for my phone; the other for a mobile broadband.

I have no trouble remembering my mobile phone number. Since I have had it for more than a decade. Also because I have to give the number to new contacts every so often.

So I succeeded in paying that bill at the self service machine albeit after a bit of trial and error.

But when it came to the mobile broadband bill, I was stymied.

I couldn’t remember the mobile broadband’s number. I didn’t bring my bill — to be truthful I never bring any of my bills as they somehow manage to vanish between their arrival and when I want to pay them, due to the usual grace period given between a bill’s arrival and its due date.

When the smiley human cashier at M1 was in operation, she just called up both bills on her computer screen after I gave my hand phone or IC number. No sweat. And I paid the two bills. Again no sweat.

Not so on Nov 28.

I tried to pay the broadband bill by using the same self-service machine. No dice. Just my identity card number won’t do. I MUST key in the line number.

Whoever did the programming for M1 must be real dumb.

Why can’t a customer’s IC number access all accounts under that particular customer?

I can understand the need to double confirm for a refund– to make life difficult for refund seekers, if nothing else! And perhaps delay the refund that way.

But why make life difficult for a customer wanting to pay up and add to M1’s cashflow?

Anyway, a human “customer” guide appeared at my side. Said sorry, no couldn’t help me find out what my mobile broadband number is. Sorry, no, no.

Miraculously he punched a few keys on another machine and gave me a slip of paper where I had to wait one (yes, ONE) hour to see someone to locate that elusive mobile broadband number.

Never mind that at least two customer officers sitting in front of their computers were just staring at their screens. No customer in front of them.

My human customer guide helpfully pointed out that as his colleagues were already serving 8030 and my Q number was 8035, I had to wait just four customers.

I didn’t rebut — tho I was tempted to– that there were four sets of other numbers in the Q that didn’t start with “80” and under M1 Q-system who knows whether we were in the same Q for all numbers or there were other Qs for different sets of numbers.

And to expect me to wait at least ONE hour to settle a $27 bill, they must be kidding. :roll:

I left and headed to Starhub next door to pay my cable TV bill.

The experience wasn’t much better in so far as the run around I got but I managed to pay my bill within 6 or 7 minutes.

This was despite having gone to the cashier to pay, I was then directed to the info counter to have my bill printed out, as I didn’t have the copy mailed to me.

At Starhub’s Plaza Singapura outlet, one could pay even without a bill. Just give the cashier your IC number.

Donch know why Starhub can’t standardise its bill payment procedures. That would save a lot of its customers’ time! And possibly cut down on its staff numbers!

Of cos, some visitors to this site wonder why I don’t pay the M1 and Starhub bills by Giro, via AXA machines or 7-11 shops. Answer is simple. I want to pay by credit card and earn points. Nothing wrong with that!

Anyway, I find the service of these two telcos sucks big time. Especially when I’ve paid M1 at least $20K in bills — and probably more — over the years. For Starhub, it’s probably a few thousand $ since we only converted to cable about 12 years ago when the management committee of my condo unilaterally removed the antennae at the roof top that allowed access to Mediacorp stations.

Now if Singapore’s productivity tzars are interested to find out more about why the nation’s productivity efforts have yielded virtually nought despite taglines and big bucks spent, they need no more than put the way M1 and Singtel run their bill collection systems under a microscope.

Come to think of it, when a company is inefficient and not productive it affects not only themselves but those who use their services. So there’s productivity lost on the receiving end too. And that cost should be deducted against the productivity figures, no? :lol:

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.