Tag Archive | China

Zero tolerance? Not really!

Thirty down and only four more to go. 29 sent back to China and 1 sentenced to 6 weeks jail. Those who went home over the last two days got winter clothes from sympathisers as well as pro-rated ex-gratia bonuses. The one jailed will very likely get out after 4 weeks — good behaviour rebate — and be home in time for the Chinese New Year.

The four now in police custody will appear in court on Thursday. They are unlikely to get fewer than 6 weeks of jail time, going by what has been meted out to their compatriot.

The remaining — in both senses of the word —  137 (assuming the final tally of 171 illegal strikers provided by SMRT is correct) have been given warnings and allowed to stay and drive SMRT buses.

If anyone reading this is wondering whom I’m referring to, then wonder no more. I am talking about the bolshi bus drivers from China, who caused SG to be in global news headlines for all the wrong reasons!

Although there has been overwhelming sympathy from the usual oppose-PAP voices on and off the Internet, I’m glad to report that among some people I know, the sympathy is under-whelming.

As one said to me over dinner prior to our evening’s entertainment — the Bellepoque production of Another Murder on the Orient Express at the Arts House: “After all, didn’t the bus drivers sign an agreement with SMRT?”


Must have thought the SMRT offer was a good one compared to what they could get in China.

Arrived in SG, then found out others had higher take-home pay — with scant acknowledgement that the comparison isn’t apple for apple. Those with higher take-home pay take care of their own housing and transport costs to and from home. Not the China boys though. They are given dormitory housing and ferried to and from work. Someone has to pay for this, right?

The striking drivers also complained that the rooms they were given were bug infested.

The Ministry of Manpower confirmed thus: “Our officers found that bed bug problems were observed in some of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers. Occupants of each room are responsible for their own hygiene. The general housekeeping conditions of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers were also below par, compared to the other rooms in the dormitories.”

The MOM’s statement on the house-keeping issues left much to be desired. So, who caused the bed-bug problem? The occupants or the operator of the dorm? And if the occupants are supposed to be responsible for their own hygiene and the cleanliness of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers is sub-standard, then doesn’t it mean that the bed bugs and related issues shouldn’t and can’t be left at the employer’s door?

Still, I can understand MOM’s deliberate vagueness. In fact, the state in my view is not practising “zero tolerance”. IMHO, G and SMRT have been more than good about the matter.

But I guess it’s more about being pragmatic than being magnanimous. If the sudden loss of 34 drivers can cause some service disruption to the transport operator with need to summon relief drivers, think how much worse SMRT’s bus skeds could become if the whole bunch of 166 (excluding the 5 made to face the brunt of the law and won’t be driving in any case) were sent packing home in one fell swoop. 🙄

Actually, i can empathise. I see a huge parallel between G, SMRT and the China drivers and what I’ve been putting up from my mother’s domestic helper.

If it involved just me, I would have sent her packing within her 1st contract. But with an elderly parent in the second stage of dementia and a home that is too big to be maintained with a lick and a sweep, I have allowed my once zero tolerance of nonsense from staff during my full-time working days to deteriorate to grudging acceptance — in exchange for zero disruption to domestic life and living.

Hence, Picky is midway into her 3rd contract with no end to the growth of her pile of demands in exchange for a hard day’s work!

I foresee the same fate for all employers — especially those who can’t just move domicile to where labour know their place and are contented to remain there!


Bus drivers from China

I was searching my blog for my perennial bitching about the poor taxi service here and the lack of connectivity in Singapore — hence forcing most of us who could cobble enough $ together to go for a car — when I discovered a most prescient post by one blogger called Padaly whom I suspect is also Gintai or his clone.

He had linked to one of my taxi/transport rants in his post about bus drivers from China.

Here is the link to his post.

Considering that Padaly wrote that in April this year — and the illegal strike has taken place near end-November — his seems to be the warning call no one –at least no one in authority openly — heeded! 😥

Two truly unique Singapore mysteries

I’m baffled by two very Singaporean mysteries after reading two court stories in the Dec 16 copy of the Straits Times (I’m a late-ST reader as I depend on the goodwill of my nephew who passes me his old copies, as n when he brings them over to my place).

The first mystery concerns Goh Eng Leng who fled SG to China in 2003 after cheating someone of $24K. He remained a fugitive in China till his funds ran out and his SG passport had expired.

So he altered his passport and then let it be revealed to the Chinese authorities that he had breached SG laws, so that he would be repatriated to S’pore and face the music here, instead of being punished in China for overstaying.

He was duly jailed by the Singapore courts: 6 months for the passport offence and 9 months for cheating.

Nothing mysterious about this so far.

The true mystery is how Goh managed to be a taxi driver — as revealed by his lawyer Subhas Anandan — between the time of his repatriation, arrest and charged in court and the time when he was finally tried?

It’s not a few days or months leh — but between January 2010 and this month.

What were our taxi licensing authorities thinking of to give someone a taxi licence when that someone is strongly suspected of being a criminal? What protection is there for innocent passengers?

I know a man is presumed innocent till proven guilty but in something which entails the safety of innocent parties, shouldn’t there be some categories of employment that are closed to those awaiting trial?

The second mystery relates to Tan Yoke Lan who was given 12 years’ worth of preventive detention for stealing $4,000 from 11 elderly men. She had already served 11 years for similar crimes.

I’m surprised there is no outcry against the stiffness of her punishment.

Sure, she preyed on old folks.  Sure, she’s probably a hardened criminal.

But look, her haul was all of $4,000. 🙄

Compare her punishment to that meted out to those who cheated the Singapore Land Authority of $12.2 million!! The accomplices were jailed for 3, 10, 15 and 22 years respectively, making an average of 12.5 years. As the stat board is said to have recovered $9 million of the loot, it means the culprits are paying for the $3 million they got away with.

So it’s 12.5 years for $750,000 on average. While for Tan Yoke Lan it’s 12 years for $4,000.

Now, tell me whether this isn’t a uniquely Singaporean mystery? 😆

’tis the season for feasting so far

The 2011 year-end food binge began for me on Nov 28 at an impromptu farewell party hosted by ET at her lovely home in Seletar Hills for Dr MA, a leading geriatrician — the heroine of our school days at the Town Convent or Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, nowadays shortenedd to anonymous initials, IJ.

MA, making her second trip to SG since our July reunion from her home in the United States, had brought along a priest who was hoping to raise funds for a small new order he was trying to set up.

From what I gathered, the fund raising wasn’t particularly successful but that didn’t reflect or dampened our goodwill towards MA, as witnessed by the good turn out at ET’s home.

As always, ET was generous in her hospitality. We had home made popiah and an assortment of other goodies. Note the advent candle — ET said it should have been lit on Nov 27, marking the 1st Sunday of advent but she saved it for our gathering. By now, all four candles would have been lit; MA’s back in her long time home, half a world away and all of us who used to play in her garden in Dunsfold Drive continue to treasure those days in our memory!

The next feasting was on Nov 30 at a group lunch — there are more than a few such “group” thingies this time of the year, as friends and friends of friends come together for that once a year “catch up”.

There were no fewer than 24 of us! We were seated at a Last Supper kind of table, 12 of us on each side. I found myself sitting next to a friend of a friend with whom I’d gone on one of those massive self-organised group holidays — once to China and another time to Sarawak.

I hadn’t seen her for more than a couple of times for the whole of this year and it’s usually at a group get together such as the Nov 30 event, where because of the sheer number of friends and friends of friends, we barely had more than a chance of say “Hi”, “Bye”, “Isn’t the food nice!”

This time being a special lunch, and because we were in a restaurant and not someone’s home, we could natter more. She told me stories about hersself that were more multi-layered, colored and textured than the buffet appetiser I had helped myself to.

Could the gory tales be true? All that happened to someone living in a large detached home in a prime area off Stevens Road? A SIL who bashed her? A grand kid who stabbed her? Family court? Counselling?

Grimms’ fairy tales?

Talk of the Ancient Mariner..  better talk of food. More feed fests akan datang in future posts

my multi-hue, textured, flavoured appetiser plate

Always trusty, tasty salmon

what we couldn't eat as we sat Last Supper like!

be4 X'mas, the cradle stays out of the manger says ET

my out sized popiah

Lit: 1st advent candle

Right on Prof Mahbubani!

Old friends of  mine will know that I don’t belong to Prof Kishore Mahbubani’s fan club. But that’s changed.

I am now a member, after receiving several emails from (possibly) fans of his who have extracted comments he made last month regarding recent Nobel Peace Prize winners right on the eve of the latest winner being announced.

Below is one version of that email making its rounds into many email boxes.

On the eve of the award of the Nobel Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singaporean career diplomat and now dean of public practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, spoke at a shipping conference in Singapore. He had this to say about the Nobel Committee’s picks for the Peace prize:

“We all respect the Nobel Peace Prize. Most winners deserve the prizes they get. Nobel Prizes by and large reflect the western world view. The winners in Asia are never leaders who brought great change. The man that did more good than anyone was Deng Xiaoping. When he came to power, 800 million people were living on less than one dollar a day. Thirty years later, after the results of his reforms, 200 million lived on less than one dollar a day. Six hundred million people were lifted out of poverty. 
Will he ever get a Nobel Peace Prize? Never. Because of the western world view that the prize must be given to dissidents in Asia . Aung San Suu Kyii (Although she deserves it) The former leader of Korea . What has Obama brought? Where is the peace in Iraq ? In Afghanistan ? How can you give him a Nobel Peace Prize? He is a wonderful guy but he has achieved nothing. Deng Xiaoping saved 600 million people and he will never get a Nobel Peace Prize. That ‘ s why it is important to step outside the western world view.”

Spot on, Prof Mahbubani! My sentiments in toto, as stated here in an earlier post on Oct 8.

I’m now your fan.

And I’m glad on checking the Internet, that your view of the Nobel Peace prize isn’t because China is now the flavour of the decade!

Let me quote the article that you wrote in October 2008 for the Project Syndicate website entitled “Nobel Injustice”.

Martti Ahtisaari is a great man. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his life work. But it was a mistake for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to cite his work in Aceh as a reason for giving him the prize.

As a recent story by Agence France Presse put it, Ahtisaari’s “most notable achievement was overseeing the 2005 reconciliation of the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement rebels, bringing an end to a three-decade-old conflict that killed some 15,000 people.” But it was Indonesia’s people and leaders who should have received the Nobel Peace Prize for the Aceh political miracle.

More fundamentally, the mentioning of Aceh in this Nobel citation raises serious questions about the mental maps used by the Nobel Prize Committee in making these awards. The committee members increasingly seem to be prisoners of the past. They continue to assume that we live in an era of Western domination of world history.

But that era is over. Increasingly, the rest of the world has gone from being objects of world history to becoming its subjects. By giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the Indonesians instead of a European mediator for Aceh, the Nobel Prize Committee would have recognized that the world has changed.

Three other big benefits would also have resulted from giving the award to an Indonesian. First, the West associates the Islamic world with violence and instability. Few believe that Muslims are capable of solving their political problems by themselves.

But this is precisely what the Aceh story was all about. Two key Indonesian leaders, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, showed remarkable political skill and courage in working out the peace deal for Aceh. A Nobel Peace Prize for them would have shown the West that Muslims can be good peacemakers and, equally important, it would have sent a message of hope to the Islamic populations of the world that have seen their self-esteem eroded by stories of failure.

Aceh was essentially a spectacular Muslim success story. Hence, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has squandered a valuable opportunity to send out a message of hope to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, one that would have rid the world of the grand global illusion that peacemaking is a “white man’s burden.”


And let me say what Prof Mahbubani might have been too diplomatic to write or say. And that is, who knows but the Nobel Peace Prize Committee are the pawns and running dogs of the western world view? Ngek, ngek, ngek… ^—————-^

And finally, a last word from the Prof. After his candid comment on the eve of the Nobel Peace Prize Award, he elaborated on that remark when he was interviewed by Winston Lord, the man who accompanied Nixon to China a life time ago. 

Now, coming back to the Chinese Nobel Prize winner, now, you know, unfortunately, I made a mistake of speaking at a Norwegian shipping conference — this is a fact — on the day before the Nobel Prize was announced. And before the Nobel Prize was announced, somebody stood up and asked the question, you know, hey, I understand a Chinese dissident, they got Nobel Prize. And I said, oh, I don’t know about that, but, you know, in general — a general response. I said, but frankly, I think Nobel prizes should also be given to leaders like Deng Xiaoping, who made a huge difference, because the largest poverty-reduction program in the world was carried out by Deng Xiaoping. He lifted up 600 million people out of poverty…. the other thing I said mischievously, also, I said, is that you give the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, who’s a wonderful human being, but what peace has he achieved? Okay?

So now going back to the Chinese dissident now, I do not know this Chinese dissident myself. In fact, I never heard of him, to be honest with you, until after the Nobel Peace Prize was announced. But I’m going to say something, which is — I’ve got to choose my words very, very carefully. But I want you to understand this, okay? You know, Max Weber once said it is not true that only good comes out of good intentions, and evil comes out of evil intentions.

The intention in giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was a good intention, but the results may be negative. And let me explain why. Apparently — I don’t know enough about the domestic politics in China, but apparently there were some reformers in China who are trying to push China towards greater political reform. The reformers are being by resisted by people — what you might call “hard-liners” or whatever it is. And sometimes Western terms don’t capture the nuances.

The reformers thought they were making progress. Pop! The Nobel Peace Prize comes in. The hard-liners said, “See, I told you. The West is out to undermine political stability in China.” And they push back on reformers. So the intention was good, I agree. But the effect can be negative. And that’s why I actually believe that if you want to transform China, it can be transformed, but it has to be done by the Chinese.

Containing China?

It’s so predictable that it would have been laughable if not for the fact that this isn’t a laughing matter.

I’m referring to Norway’s Nobel Prize Committee awarding well-known jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize today.

He joins the Dalai Lama — a long time thorn in China due to Tibet — who won the same prize in 1989. Surprise, surprise, he was picked months after the Tiananmen Square incident in June the same year.

What a co-incidence, no?

OK, there’s been no Tiananmen this year.

But all year long there’s been a growing crescendo led by the United States against the value of China’s yuan.

Too low, too low, says the US and no one has dared to counter that with a USD1.7 trillion deficit shouldn’t people be telling America that the USD is too high, too high?

That is, you devalue if you want to, but the yuan’s value will reflect the fact it’s got 1.3 billion people who are just discovering the joy of full time work and are willing to work for less and save more.

So eat your heart out USA!

But of course not. Americans of whatever political persuasion will only want to eat their cake and still have it.

Hence their call has grown into the frenzied howls of a pack of hunting jackels as the US-influenced World Bank and International Monetary Fund gather for their annual jamboree.

Revalue your yuan, China, revalue your yuan China!

China has been obliging bit by bit, very much reflecting the pace of foot-bound women in the Old China. Which clearly doesn’t suit debt laden countries which have no way to reflate their economies and create jobs other than bully the likes of China into giving up their well-earned share of markets for goods and services thru more expensive currencies and higher costs.

However, the US and all its champions had better remember what happened when it wrestled with Japan in the 1980s to revalue the yen, using exactly the same arguments as they are now using against China.

Don’t in a couple of years’ time start crying that China with its revalued yuan and burgeoning reserves has bought up half the world and more, especially America the Beautiful, from sea to shining sea, K!

Xingrencha’s gone west

After almost a year of trying to keep a blog about all things China that interest me, I have thrown in the towel for three reasons:

  •  it’s taken almost a whole year for me to put up 49 posts and that’s not very productive for me or useful to anyone else.
  • there is a plethora of blogs about China written by besotted Westerners, many of them very good.
  • I suddenly realise that I stand to pay USD 131 (S$183) to Yahoo for web hosting etc on Aug 1. It had been a sucky experience right from the start and I don’t intend to pay good money again for more sucky service.

See my comment here and here  about Yahoo’s small business web hosting service and how I was “entrapped” into taking it.

But one year is more than enough.

So, I cancelled the plan.

And Yahoo, without even an acknowledgement email, has locked me out of the xingrencha.biz site and its related xingrencha email facilities.

I’ve lost all the mail I stored with xingrencha but thank goodness not much of relevance is stored there. I was fortunate too that I managed to download all my 49 posts before cancellation.

Here’s a screenshot of one of those post by way of remebering xingrencha which has gone the way of many blogs — west into cyberspace.