A comment from a reader of my personal website http://www.ngejay.com/
The citation of Fridae (”… MDA issued take-down notices to Fridae.com for depicting incest…”) is inaccurate. At the material time, Fridae.com had a “forum” section where members of the public could post material or information. The “take-down” notice issued by MDA referred to items posted by a member or members of the public on this “Forum”. Though Fridae.com monitors the “Forum” section, we were not able to vet it every minute. There would be windows when undesirable materials were posted and remain. Following a meeting with MDA, we decided to remove the “Forum” as the burden of ensuring no undesirable materials are posted is too onerous.
ST Online letter by Mr Edmund Lin
29 Jan 2009
I REFER to last Friday’s report, ‘Cash grants to subsidise wage bills’.
In this economic downturn, I would like to see this cash grant benefit Singaporeans rather than permanent residents (PRs). A clearer distinction between companies that hire more Singaporeans and those that do not is needed.
In the figures released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, more than 50,000 foreigners became PRs in 2005 and 2006. But in the past 10 years, an average of just 8,500 a year became citizens.
In addition, many expatriate couples, with husband and wife equally qualified, have one spouse taking up Singapore citizenship to enjoy subsidies, while the other retains home country citizenship.
Many foreigners come here because they see Singapore as a land of opportunity which is clean, safe and good for families. But going by the number who become citizens, not many think of Singapore as their only home.
By the Singapore Democrats
28 Jan 2009
Unbenownst to most Singaporeans — as well as police officers apparently — the Government quietly passed subsidiary legislation a few years ago to ban all forms of political activity.
Under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance)(Assemblies and Processions) Rules, permits are required for a group of 5 persons or more to:
(a) demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person;
(b) publicise a cause or campaign; or
(c) mark or commemorate any event.
What kind of law makes it illegal for citizens to come together just to express a view or to publicise a cause or campaign? Indeed what kind of a government passes that kind of law?
Changes were proposed to the Films Act through a bill introduced in Parliament last Thursday, 22 Jan 09.
Certain categories of films such as films produced by political parties or by election candidates of their manifesto and policies, live recordings of election rallies, public speeches and processions, as well as anniversary celebration videos by political parties will no longer be considered “party political films” and hence will not be banned under Section 33 of the Films Act.
However, the dubious condition imposed is that “events being filmed must first be held in accordance with the law“.
But who makes the law? Clearly, the PAP-controlled Parliament does, and for its own self-serving purposes. To say that “events being filmed must first be held in accordance with the law” is tantamount to saying that events being filmed must be condoned first and foremost by the ruling elite.
Will our business-centric budget benefit GLCs and big businesses more than consumers and working class citizens?
Written by Ng E-Jay
26 Jan 2009
A day after Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivered the 2009 Budget Speech in Parliament, the mainstream press was all over the shop heaping praise on the “bold”, “generous” and “decisive” budget that “scores on superlatives”.
The Finance Minister told Parliament that Budget 2009 will deliver a Resilience Package totalling an unprecedented $20.5 billion aimed at helping Singaporeans keep their jobs and developing infrastructure and capabilities for “Singapore’s next phase of growth”.
A closer examination of the budget reveals that it is very business-centric.
The Jobs Credit Scheme, in which every non-Government employer is provided with a cash grant amounting to 12% of the first $2,500 of the monthly wages of each Singaporean or PR employee, benefits businesses directly because it places cash in the hands of employers rather than the employees. It is unclear whether such a measure will be effective in encouraging employers to retain workers as companies, operating under the pressure of an unprecedented downturn and potentially acute recession, might be forced to downscale their operations, and could still choose to retrench to save costs whilst benefiting from the scheme with its existing pool of workers.
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) told a rally at Speaker’s Corner on Friday 23 Jan that the Jobs Credit Scheme may be “subject to abuses” by companies and would not benefit workers directly. It suggested that the cash grant be credited directly into employees’ Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts and considered as part of the employer’s contribution to CPF.
As larger companies tend to have more employees, it is clear that the Jobs Credit Scheme would end up benefiting big businesses the most. Also, with the continued entrenchment of GLCs in almost every major aspect of the economy, the Jobs Credit Scheme will amount to using taxpayer dollars to help Temasek-linked companies stay afloat. Big Brother is about to gain a bit more muscle.
Written by Ng E-Jay
23 Jan 2009
The PAP Government has always been very adamant about using past reserves only as a last resort. In fact, as recent as February 2008, SM Goh Chok Tong told reporters at a charity Lunar New Year lunch: “The reserves are like a golden goose which lays golden eggs. And if you try and dig into the reserves, you’re actually in a sense not feeding the reserves and the goose gets smaller …. …. Produce the wealth first and the surpluses before we talk about sharing and never, never dig into the reserves. That’s like killing the golden goose to get the meat.” (Channel News Asia, “SM Goh says growing the economy is important for the future“, 17 Feb 2008)
SM Goh then did an about-face on 18 Jan 2009 when he revealed that the Government might draw on past reserves to help fund this year’s budget. He also told reporters at a Lunar New Year event at Marine Parade constituency: “The weather is so bad, and we’ve always said the reserves are for a rainy day. If this is not a rainy day, I don’t know what is a rainy day.” (Straits Time Online, “Govt may tap reserves “, 19 Jan 2009)
Written by Ng E-Jay
23 Jan 2009
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivered the 2009 Budget Speech at 3.30pm in Parliament on Thursday, 22 January 2009. He told Parliament that this year’s budget, aimed at helping Singapore through the worst recession since independence, is a significantly expansionary budget that will put us in deficit to the tune of 6% of GDP for fiscal year 2009 (before accounting for Net Investment Returns and transfers to endowments and trust funds).
Mr Tharman said that Budget 2009 will deliver a Resilience Package totalling $20.5 billion this year. One of the most important objectives of this package is to help Singaporeans keep their jobs and retain their ability to support their families. To achieve this, the package will focus on helping businesses retain workers by helping them meet their costs and strengthen their cash-flow, and by enhancing their competitiveness.
To encourage employers to retain workers, the Government will introduce a Jobs Credit Scheme in which every employer is provided with a cash grant amounting to 12% of the first $2,500 of the monthly wages of each employee who is on the CPF payroll. The Jobs Credit, which will be equivalent to a 9 percentage point CPF cut, is not intended to be a permanent scheme to subsidize employment. It is a temporary scheme to help companies through an exceptional downturn.
Will the Jobs Credit Scheme be effective in encouraging employers retain workers? My take is that it could be, provided the downturn does not become significantly worse than it already is. Thus far, we have seen some major companies, such as DBS Bank, retrench middle management and higher paid staff, only to re-employ cheaper, junior staff to replace them, in order to save on staff costs. The Jobs Credit Scheme could be of some help in dissuading companies from carrying out such practices. Also, some companies might be looking to make a deal with employees to reduce their salaries in return for continued employment. The Jobs Credit Scheme could take the place of such negotiations by providing a cash grant that amounts to an effective employee wage cut from the point of view of the employer. The benefit of this arrangement is that the employee gets to keep his original wage.
ST Forum Letter by Madam Yuki Chan, 21 Jan 2009
I LIVE at Jalan Chempaka Puteh where the Government had thoughtfully built a cosy, little park for residents.
When the foreign workers came, I subscribed to the the Government’s call to accept foreign workers in our neighbourhood.
I was open to sharing this park, near Simpang Bedok, which is teeming with foreign workers of various nationalities.
However, the condition of the park has deteriorated ever since foreign workers living in the area started patronising it.
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
Written by Dr Wong Wee Nam
18 Jan 2009
He who knows his own side of the case, knows little of that.
— John Stuart Mill
In April 2006, just before the Singapore General Election, the PAP government decreed a ban on political podcasts. The reason given by the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts was that “the Internet is ubiquitous, fast and anonymous”. He was concerned that rumours could be spread on the Internet and “once a false story or rumour is started on the Internet, it is almost impossible to put it right”.
In my response to the ban, I wrote a letter to the forum page of the Straits Times. In it I said:
“Firstly, how can something that is so chaotic and disorganised ever be an effective mill for a credulous rumour? Secondly, anyone who has read an Internet political discussion would know that any posting of half-truths and untruths will be met by responses from many other netizens to put the facts right. There is no need even for the Government to try and counter them with rational arguments.
An old Chinese adage says: The more one debates, the stronger the truth will be. We should, therefore, allow more freedom for debate rather than try to control it, if we want to arrive at the truth.