Tag Archive | PAP

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?

Say something about these, please, PM Lee!

If I were to respond to a survey about life in Singapore, I would say I am 60% happy with my external environment and 80% happy with my home environment. Can’t be 100% lah or else I would be in paradise, and I’m not talking about the Paradise restaurants :roll:

So, I would like Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to address some of the issues that bug me about things that aren’t within my control and hopefully change them so that my happiness level with the external environment would match that of my feelings for my own home.

First and foremost is this thing about the People’s Association and the grassroots adviser.

For years and years I’ve found it — and still find it – impossible to understand why defeated PAP candidates are allowed to remain the grassroots adviser to the ward/s that has/have gone to the Opposition.

I am no Opposition fan. In fact, I am mostly neutral when it comes to the Opposition. And when it comes to one or two Opposition noise makers, I am downright hostile.

Yet I feel it isn’t right for Opposition MPs who have won fair and square to be left out in the cold where community events are concerned. Especially at the once a year National Day dinner.

Shouldn’t the kosher MP be the GOH instead of the defeated PAP candidate? Sure, it’s the grassroots organisations such as CCCs that organise the dinner and the entertainment but when was the last time that the grassroots of an Opposition ward asked the standing MP to be the GOH, instead of the PAP loser?

If there has been such an occasion I am sure it would have made the front page headlines in the Straits Times. I don’t remember ever having read such an account. :roll:

My hope therefore is for PM Lee to address this topic, preferably at the National Day Rally when all Singaporeans, PAP, Opposition and everyone in between are supposed to be united as one nation, one people, one Singapore.

If PAP nurtured grassroots leaders don’t know any better about propriety and respect to the Opposition MP who represents their constituency, then let the supreme commander of the PAP educate them about respecting the wishes of Singaporeans in word and deed!

The other topic I would like to hear the PM talk about is the ever-annoying policy to share government goodies with Singaporeans by using the annual value of property yardstick.

Of course I am highly grateful that the $120 discounted maid levy wasn’t doled out based on homes’ annual value or else I won’t have got that either.

Never mind that my flat would be put to shame by most of the ECs such as Bishan Loft and new generation HDB housing.

Never mind that everyone of my generation in my family has more or less stopped working, some for years. And although all of us live in private property, none of us are of the Wee Cho Yaw class; not even the permanent secretary class. We are even below lesser mortal classes for that matter.

Also, as our homes were bought decades ago, the prices that we paid back then won’t be able to get us decent public housing today. But if anyone would today offer me public housing of 1800 sf near Orchard Road for $500K, we might have a deal! :lol: Then, there would be no more angst about having my full share of budget goodies.

Seriously though, what is so difficult about determining who should get the GST Voucher? (see below) Why base it on a combi annual value of one’s home and assessable income, when it’s owner occupied?

Why not improve the criteria by checking the ages of the occupants? If someone is already 80+, is it likely that he or she would be able to benefit from the GST rebates for very much longer, even if he or she lives in private property? And as the annual value is a notional number, the effect of such a yardstick is that the person is given an implied make-believe income when none exists

It is the private-public property blunt cut-off that I find so galling. Why not throw in age consideration and the price paid for the property? Given our massive computing power, surely this isn’t too much to expect? Or am I mistaken?

The Straits Times
Published on Aug 03, 2013
GOVERNMENT HELP SCHEMES

Fair system of income, annual value as criteria in place

 GOVERNMENT help schemes such as the GST Voucher (GSTV) aim to provide support to those who are less well-off. They use both assessable income (AI) and the annual value (AV) of homes as criteria, as this combination provides a better picture of a person’s means than if just one criterion is used (“Govt help schemes: Income more relevant than annual value” by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Wednesday).

To address one of Mr Chan’s points, the AV does not refer to actual rental income earned, which would be reflected in the AI. The AV is a measure of the value of the home, irrespective of whether it is rented out. Besides a person’s income, this is an additional measure of how well-off he is.

Most Singaporeans with lower incomes do obtain larger GSTV benefits. This includes, for example, the majority of non-working spouses, who rightly benefit from the GSTV.

However, if GSTV benefits were based on AI alone, those who live in expensive homes and who choose not to work would obtain the same benefits as the poor.

Similarly, using AV alone would mean that Singaporeans who earn high incomes, but who choose to live in flats with lower AVs, would benefit unduly.

Our approach of using both AI and AV as criteria is a practical way of identifying those who are less well-off, from among the full population of adult Singaporeans. It is not perfect in design, but broadly equitable. It also complements other schemes which are less broad-based and allow for more customised assessment of an individual’s needs.

We will continue to review the eligibility criteria of government help schemes to benefit those who need greater support.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Finance

Aiyah, learn to live with less, lah!

So, the single Singaporean, 35 years or older and earning $5,000 or less a month, will soon be able to join the queue buying HDB flats direct from the Government.

You would think this group of singletons would think themselves lucky. But no! Judging from what I’ve read in the SG newspapers, some potential beneficiaries are unhappy with the size of the homes they would be offered.

These quibble that the 375 sq to 485 sq ft units priced from as little as $100,000 — which incidentally isn’t enough nowadays to buy a brand new basic car!!! — are too small for them. Never mind that after a promised $15-K grant from an increasingly populist inclined G/PAP, the flat would cost less than a COE, muwahhaha!

The ungrateful comments remind me of that Cantonese saying: given a bed, would demand a blanket!

I’ve just visited a Singaporean friend who has lived in Hong Kong for two thirds of her life. Her home in the Sheung Wan area measures all of 400 sq ft but the useable area is some 10 to 15% less. It’s in fact a converted office unit with many offices in the 17-storey building having been similarly converted into homes.

I’ve not seen a cuter dwelling. Friend has a fully equipped kitchen complete with built-in electric oven, bathroom and toilet and a full-size washing machine. But she has no cupboard for her clothes or a bed. She sleeps on a futon on the floor while her clothes are hung in an alcove screened off by a discreet curtain.

She’s not my only Singaporean friend who lives in such a tiny flat. Another who moved to London a dozen years ago lives in the top-class district of Buckingham Gate. Her home – across the road from the New Scotland Yard building – is all of 180 sq ft.

As I’ve never visited her, I can’t vouch for how truly titchy it is but my friend tells me, her bed folds into the wall and she has a bathroom, toilet and all the other stuff that makes modern living comfortable in that space :roll:

Now if neither of these examples underline what a gr8 consolation prize our increasingly populist inclined G/PAP is offering Singaporean singletons of lesser means, then let me share an NYT article which my friend Bubur Hitam sent me about living with less.

For ease of reference, I’ve reproduced the whole article at the bottom of this post. For those who want the hundreds of comments the article has attracted, go here and here

After digesting the information, I hope that more Singaporeans, single or otherwise, would seriously consider doing more with less.

Here our increasingly populist inclined G/PAP — especially Minister Khaw Boon Wan – should take a new lead. Instead of doing war dances over shoe-box homes, G/PAP and Mr Khaw should preach the benefits and practicalities of doing with less space in exchange for more time, money and leisure: To live well with 7 million or more!

The New York Times

March 9, 2013

Living With Less. A Lot Less.

By GRAHAM HILL

I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did.

I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets.

Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t.

We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products.

There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true.

For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected and live a bigger, better, richer life with less.

It started in 1998 in Seattle, when my partner and I sold our Internet consultancy company, Sitewerks, for more money than I thought I’d earn in a lifetime.

To celebrate, I bought a four-story, 3,600-square-foot, turn-of-the-century house in Seattle’s happening Capitol Hill neighborhood and, in a frenzy of consumption, bought a brand-new sectional couch (my first ever), a pair of $300 sunglasses, a ton of gadgets, like an Audible.com MobilePlayer (one of the first portable digital music players) and an audiophile-worthy five-disc CD player. And, of course, a black turbocharged Volvo. With a remote starter!

I was working hard for Sitewerks’ new parent company, Bowne, and didn’t have the time to finish getting everything I needed for my house. So I hired a guy named Seven, who said he had been Courtney Love’s assistant, to be my personal shopper. He went to furniture, appliance and electronics stores and took Polaroids of things he thought I might like to fill the house; I’d shuffle through the pictures and proceed on a virtual shopping spree.

My success and the things it bought quickly changed from novel to normal. Soon I was numb to it all. The new Nokia phone didn’t excite me or satisfy me. It didn’t take long before I started to wonder why my theoretically upgraded life didn’t feel any better and why I felt more anxious than before.

My life was unnecessarily complicated. There were lawns to mow, gutters to clear, floors to vacuum, roommates to manage (it seemed nuts to have such a big, empty house), a car to insure, wash, refuel, repair and register and tech to set up and keep working. To top it all off, I had to keep Seven busy. And really, a personal shopper? Who had I become? My house and my things were my new employers for a job I had never applied for.

It got worse. Soon after we sold our company, I moved east to work in Bowne’s office in New York, where I rented a 1,900-square-foot SoHo loft that befit my station as a tech entrepreneur. The new pad needed furniture, housewares, electronics, etc. — which took more time and energy to manage.

AND because the place was so big, I felt obliged to get roommates — who required more time, more energy, to manage. I still had the Seattle house, so I found myself worrying about two homes. When I decided to stay in New York, it cost a fortune and took months of cross-country trips — and big headaches — to close on the Seattle house and get rid of the all of the things inside.

I’m lucky, obviously; not everyone gets a windfall from a tech start-up sale. But I’m not the only one whose life is cluttered with excess belongings.

In a study published last year titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” researchers at U.C.L.A. observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Seventy-five percent of the families involved in the study couldn’t park their cars in their garages because they were too jammed with things.

Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago.

Apparently our supersize homes don’t provide space enough for all our possessions, as is evidenced by our country’s $22 billion personal storage industry.

What exactly are we storing away in the boxes we cart from place to place? Much of what Americans consume doesn’t even find its way into boxes or storage spaces, but winds up in the garbage.

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports, for example, that 40 percent of the food Americans buy finds its way into the trash.

Enormous consumption has global, environmental and social consequences. For at least 335 consecutive months, the average temperature of the globe has exceeded the average for the 20th century. As a recent report for Congress explained, this temperature increase, as well as acidifying oceans, melting glaciers and Arctic Sea ice are “primarily driven by human activity.” Many experts believe consumerism and all that it entails — from the extraction of resources to manufacturing to waste disposal — plays a big part in pushing our planet to the brink. And as we saw with Foxconn and the recent Beijing smog scare, many of the affordable products we buy depend on cheap, often exploitive overseas labor and lax environmental regulations.

Does all this endless consumption result in measurably increased happiness?

In a recent study, the Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen linked consumption with aberrant, antisocial behavior. Professor Bodenhausen found that “Irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mind-set, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in well-being, including negative affect and social disengagement.” Though American consumer activity has increased substantially since the 1950s, happiness levels have flat-lined.

I DON’T know that the gadgets I was collecting in my loft were part of an aberrant or antisocial behavior plan during the first months I lived in SoHo. But I was just going along, starting some start-ups that never quite started up when I met Olga, an Andorran beauty, and fell hard. My relationship with stuff quickly came apart.

I followed her to Barcelona when her visa expired and we lived in a tiny flat, totally content and in love before we realized that nothing was holding us in Spain. We packed a few clothes, some toiletries and a couple of laptops and hit the road. We lived in Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Toronto with many stops in between.

A compulsive entrepreneur, I worked all the time and started new companies from an office that fit in my solar backpack. I created some do-gooder companies like We Are Happy to Serve You, which makes a reusable, ceramic version of the iconic New York City Anthora coffee cup and TreeHugger.com, an environmental design blog that I later sold to Discovery Communications. My life was full of love and adventure and work I cared about. I felt free and I didn’t miss the car and gadgets and house; instead I felt as if I had quit a dead-end job.

The relationship with Olga eventually ended, but my life never looked the same. I live smaller and travel lighter. I have more time and money. Aside from my travel habit — which I try to keep in check by minimizing trips, combining trips and purchasing carbon offsets — I feel better that my carbon footprint is significantly smaller than in my previous supersized life.

Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.

I like material things as much as anyone. I studied product design in school. I’m into gadgets, clothing and all kinds of things. But my experiences show that after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.

I wouldn’t trade a second spent wandering the streets of Bangkok with Olga for anything I’ve owned. Often, material objects take up mental as well as physical space.

I’m still a serial entrepreneur, and my latest venture is to design thoughtfully constructed small homes that support our lives, not the other way around. Like the 420-square-foot space I live in, the houses I design contain less stuff and make it easier for owners to live within their means and to limit their environmental footprint. My apartment sleeps four people comfortably; I frequently have dinner parties for 12. My space is well-built, affordable and as functional as living spaces twice the size. As the guy who started TreeHugger.com, I sleep better knowing I’m not using more resources than I need. I have less — and enjoy more.

My space is small. My life is big.

Graham Hill is the founder of LifeEdited.com and TreeHugger.com.

WP is gracious in victory

That’s what I thought of the way the Workers’ Party handled its suprisingly (to me anyway) good victory. At least in the manner Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Lee Li Lian and Ah Huat handled their press conference earlier this morning

They were clearly delighted that their party won quite handsomely: it’s by 3,000+ votes leh and not the the 300 votes that were being twittered around be4 pole faced n squeaky voiced Yam Ah Mee made his pronouncement.

There was no trace of triumphalism among the WP leaders; no excessive and unrealistic ambitions, with Chairman Lim pointing out in answer to a reporter’s leading question. The Opposition with only 10 seats out of 90 in Parliament is a long way from being able to form a government.

So, no, unlike Chua Mui Hoong of the Straits Times, I think what happened in Punggol East last night is no tipping point for the PAP or politics in Singapore — yet.

But the PAP could make it the tipping point all the same if it doesn’t accept defeat with the same graciousness with which WP embraced victory.

Take the PAP’s press conference to concede defeat and congratulate the WP.

The slight smiles on the faces of Teo Chee Hean and Koh Poh Koon were painful to see. They were more like grimaces plastered there out of PR necessity than a genuine acceptance that the majority of citizens in Punggol East had gone with the WP!

Also, i couldn’t help noticing how Mr Teo kept clenching his fists or his impatience in asking if there were “any more questions” –that wasn’t a real invitation for more but a signal to close for the night.

Hopefully what I saw last night was just the natural human reaction to an unexpected and unwanted event and that the simmering disappointment and/or anger at being rejected wouldn’t be carried over to the handing over of Punggol East’s Town Council infrastructure to the WP.

Otherwise Punggol East could go down in the PAP’s history as the truly tipping point :cry: :cry:

Which brain-dead criminal

could have issued death threats to Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam to get out of the Punggol East by-election or else?

Mr Jeyaretnam has lodged a police report over anonymous threats against him and his family.

The Straits Times spotted him leaving the Sengkang Neighbourhood Police Centre on Friday afternoon, after spending several hours there.

When approached, Mr Jeyaretnam confirmed the threats came barely hours after he was announced as a candidate for Punggol East by-election on Wednesday.

IMHO, whoever sent those alleged threats must have an IQ of zero, to even suspect that Mr J’s participation in the fight would make any difference to whom will win.

Worse, by sending those alleged threats, the anonymous mad criminal — he or she or they — would surely be helping  Mr J to garner sympathy support (the sort so despised by the PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon) and perhap help him lose with some dignity, if not with his deposit intact.

If the threat maker came from any of Mr J’s competitor parties, I would say that with a supporter/supporters like that, they don’t need any enemies.

Still, I’m confident that our men in blue would find it a no-brainer on where to start looking for the culprit :lol:

 

Inane thots on Punggol East BE

First thought: SDP, despite its silly games in recent days trying to bait the Workers Party, ain’t daft. By throwing in the towel even be4 the real game has begun shows that it knows the $16K deposit it will surely lose on the night of Jan 26 makes for a very expensive candle just to play-play.

Second thought: The u-know-who’s from the other two parties if they go ahead with their promise (threat?) to put up candidates for the BE will surely make the state coffers $32K richer — besides having to bear other expenses during the 9 days of husting. If they think this kind of expensive candle is worth the game, then they are truly daft.

Third thought: stemming from thoughts one and two, it’s obvious why any Punggol resident who isn’t daft but is anti PAP won’t go for anyone else other than the Workers Party candidate. This is because she clearly has a far better chance than anyone from the rest of the Opposition to win against the PAP. Otherwise, the anti-PAP voters might as well spoil their votes, right  :lol:

Fourth thought: Poor Dr Koh Poh Koon. I won’t give him a drop of sympathy because he came from a poor family. What I do feel for him is why he allows such unflattering photos of himself to be captured? As an eternal sucker for good looking politicians, I really feel sorry for him that he isn’t more photogenic, especially when compared to his chief rival for the Punggol East seat! :cry:

kohpohkun

One more after thought, no less inane: The biggest potential loser in this upcoming BE is the PAP — if it loses the single seat ward to the WP. Yet could it afford not to take this gamble, if it wishes to maintain the moralistic high ground? But would the moralistic high ground remain tenable if (heaven forbid) 10 PAP were found to have done what Michael Palmer did — have an extramarital affair? Tenable I mean for both PAP and SG :cry:

When shall we three meet again?

B-D Trio

… in thunder, lightning or in rain…?

When the hurlyburly’s done,
 When the battle’s lost and won….

Well, the Hougang battle’s been lost by the PAP and won by the Workers Party. I don’t know when there will be a reprise of the May 26 joust. Perhaps the next general election?

But I know when we three B-D gals would meet again. Soon.

For our next birthday month of May, when our joint celebration is held again, there won’t be the background excitement of a rare Singapore experience — a by-election to add oomph and bite to our always delicious dinner cooked every year without fail by the delectable HWSNBN.

Last night’s dinner was therefore extra-special.

And if DPM Teo Chee Hean had been a fly on the wall of where we had our dinner, he won’t be so confident  in his words “the elections in Hougang is quite special, as Hougang is not representative of the whole of Singapore necessarily. Because each constituency is different, and Hougang has its own characteristics..

This is because of the 7 of us at our wine-dine-whine din-din, there was only one person rooting for the PAP.

OK, one of those present is a Hongkonger who dropped into SG for a quick visit. So he didn’t count.

The remaining six are all Singaporeans, all having the vote, provided where they live won’t have a walkover at the next GE. And I’m sure that walkovers are likely to be a thing of the past!

Three live in the East Coast, two in the Orchard Road area and one right in the City Centre — their votes would count in the Marine Parade, Tanjong Pagar and Moulmein-Kallang GRCs. Only one of these six were sad that the PAP lost on Saturday!

I’m not saying that the outlier is me or it’s not me.

What I would confess to is that I was dead wrong about the PAP’s prospects in Hougang. Which shows the strong pulling power of the WP, the strong turn off that has become the PAP or a combi of both.

Meanwhile, it was a delightful dinner, with two vintage white wines and a bottle of Moet & Chandon, which weren’t a lot split among 7 hearty eaters :lol:

Palate refreshener: sorbet & jelly

Chikx galore! Stuffed with cheese n herbs

refreshing fruit-trio n veggie salad

Home-made siu-yoke, better than Wah Lok

Fruit flan from Fullerton Hotel