Affordable flats still available? Are you sure?

January 31, 2010 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
31 January 2010

A Sunday Times article “Affordable flats still available” (31 Jan 2010) stated that there are still “gems” to be discovered in some housing estates, with 4-roomers in the suburbs like Jurong or Woodlands going as low as $300,000.

$300,000? Is that considered affordable?

According to the latest Monthly Digest of Statistics (Dec 2009) published by Statistics Singapore, the average monthly nominal earnings for CPF members was $3,500 in Q3 2009.

Assuming a combined monthly gross household income of $7,000, it would take a married couple at least 20 years to pay off their mortgage for a $300,000 flat, and they would have paid around $85,000 in interest over the duration of their housing loan, assuming a very conservative 2.5 percent interest rate.

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Minister Mentor calls Singaporeans DAFT for faulting Government’s housing policies

January 28, 2010 by · 21 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
28 January 2010

I have never in my life seen a politician call voters STUPID for not accepting his party’s policies, and then ask them not to cast protest votes against his party, all in the same breath.

Yet this was precisely what Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew did at a conference on Wednesday commemorating the Housing Board’s (HDB) 50th anniversary.

According to a Straits Times report “Don’t cast protest vote” (28 Jan 2010), MM Lee said Singaporeans ought to understand that the Government sells them HDB flats at a subsidised price, below market rate, so that they can own an asset that will appreciate in value over the years.

He also said voters must be “daft” if they found fault with the Government’s housing policies, and cautioned Singaporeans not to cast a protest vote against the ruling party over this.

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A U-turn in PAP’s economic and population policies? We shall see.

January 26, 2010 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
26 January 2010

Has there been a dramatic U-turn in the PAP’s economic and population policies? Despite recent statements by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the need to raise productivity and temper the rate of import of foreigners, I remain unconvinced till I see actual results.

On Monday, Mr Lee told the audience at the Singapore Perspectives 2010 Forum organized by the Institute of Policy Studies that Singapore has to adopt a revised economic strategy focused more on improving productivity than pursuing growth at all costs.

This blog, Sgpolitics.net, has repeatedly used the phrase “growth at all cost” numerous times over the past year to describe the flawed economic and population policies of the PAP that will end in disaster should they be allowed to go on unchecked.

Mr Lee said that land constraints prohibit indefinite expansion of the workforce by importing more and more foreigners, and in his own words as quoted by the Straits Times: “We have to extract maximum value from the resources that we have; every piece of land must be put to optimum use, activities which are no longer competitive or productive have to be gradually phased out.

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PM Lee: Complete loss of perspective at Singapore Perspectives Forum

January 26, 2010 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
26 January 2010

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke at length at the Singapore Perspectives Forum on Monday from issues ranging from the elections to immigration, but if media reports are anything to go by, he and the PAP have completely lost their perspective on national issues.

Referring to recent mainstream media reports on ex-government scholars joining opposition parties, Mr Lee said that election candidates should not be judged by their academic abilities but by what they can do for Singapore. (CNA, “Candidates should be judged on what they can do for S’pore: PM Lee“, 25 Jan 2010.)

In Mr Lee’s own words as quoted by CNA: “I can tell you, we interview many scholars and each time we field a few of them. And we interview other people too and we often field people who are not scholars. It is good to see it in perspective.

Reading between the lines, is PM Lee implying that scholars who join opposition parties are PAP-rejects?

First and foremost, academically well-qualified people including scholarship recipients joining the ranks of the opposition is nothing new, particularly in recent years. It is only due to the fact that the mainstream media has consistently blacked out news of academically qualified Singaporeans joining opposition parties that the public has come away with the impression that this is a brand new phenomenon.

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Inadequate Public Transportation

January 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

The public transport companies have been increasing their fees steadily over the years, in response to the rising price of oil and the overall rising cost of labour. Or at least, that is what they claim. However, service standards such as train frequencies have in fact dropped, as Mr Goh Meng Seng, a member of the National Solidarity Party, explains in the following article.

By Goh Meng Seng
23 Jan 2010

The following is a Table compiled to show the contrast of population growth vs MRT development.

(Data compiled from Table 3.1 of the Yearbook of Statistics 2009 and SMRT Annual Report 2007/2008)

From the table above, we can gather the following facts (from 2003 to 2008 as the population figures for 2009 is not available yet):

Total Population Growth 17.6%

Resident Population Growth 8.2%

SMRT Total Number of Passenger Trips (Million) Growth 19.0%

SMRT Car Kilometres Operated (Million) Growth -13.0%

SMRT Average Operating Car Occupancy Rate Growth 35%

What do the above statistics tell us?

It is quite puzzling to me actually. The public transport companies like SMRT has been increasing their fares for the past 7 years but it seems that their service standards have dropped with respect to the population growth.

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Human rights are universal, say Ambalam and Chee

By the Singapore Democrats
25 Jan 2010

Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Dr Chee Soon Juan walked out of prison on Saturday after serving a one-week jail term for distributing flyers that were critical of the PAP Government.

They were greeted by friends and supporters outside Changi Prison. Undaunted, the two said that they would continue to campaign for democracy and free speech in Singapore, and immediately sat down with members and supporters at a nearby coffeeshop to discuss initiatives to further the programme of the Singapore Democrats.

The PAP has long been known for its use of the law to stifle democracy and human rights in this country. But this has not stopped it from shamelessly anouncing to the world that Singapore is a democratic country.

Mr Ambalam and Dr Chee were convicted, together with Ms Chee Siok Chin, by District Judge Chng Lye Beng for assembly without a permit in 2006 when a group of them distributed flyers outside the Raffles City Shopping Centre.

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Jaslyn Go: Thoughts on the TBT Trial

The End Is Near – TBT Trial

By Jaslyn Go
22 Jan 2010

As we approach the last tranche of our TBT trial, there are alot of emotions build up for myself and my fellow co-defendants.

It was not easy to come this far, let alone still carrying on in this long and draining trial.

Tranche after tranche our numbers are dwindling due to way our cases are being dealt with. For eg, Francis was forced to plead guilty as he will be away on 19th Jan 10 and judge insisted the hearing to start on 18 Jan 10. Sylvester having to plead guilty due to work commitment.

As for myself, my boy, Joe-En has started his Primary One this year, a phase that is important to him as well as for me as a mother. I have made application to Judge Chia Wee Kiat with the understanding and support from my 10 remaining co-defendants to have the lunch break from 1130 to 1330 so that I could rush home to bring my boy to school. Thankfully the judge allowed my application without objection from the DPP.

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Discriminatory job ads on the decline? That is but the tip of our problems.

January 22, 2010 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
22 January 2010

According to a report recently released by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (Tafep), discriminatory job advertisements such as those unfairly specifying the preferred race or gender of the job applicant without explaining why those characteristics are necessary for the job, are on the decline.

The Straits Times article “Discriminatory job ads decline: Report” (21 Jan 2010) quoted the Tafep’s report as saying that the number of print advertisements containing discrimination fell to 1% last year compared to 19.7% in 2006.

Immediate questions arise. Firstly, what criteria does Tafep use to determine whether companies have fairly specified certain age or gender requirements as a result of genuine manpower needs (like requiring applicants to be below a certain age as hard labour is involved)? Secondly, why has Tafep confined itself to print media when there is a slowly growing number of job advertisements made online?

These questions however are academic. The main issue I have with the Tafep report is that it has neglected to consider discrimination against Singaporeans vis-a-vis foreign workers.

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AlJazeera’s video report on Singapore’s liberal immigration policy

January 22, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics, Media articles 

AlJazeera interviews former NMP Siew Kum Hong, Jolovan Wham from Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics (H.O.M.E.), and Dr Dawn Dekle from the Singapore Institute for International Affairs on Singapore’s liberal immigration policy.

Notable views:

The Government (has) put in place a set of very liberal policies, and did not anticipate the predictable outcome of private employers exploiting the system that was put in place …. …. We have a growing number of foreigners with no special skills who are competing with middle class and lower middle class Singaporeans for jobs, and that is where Singaporeans are feeling it the most. (Siew Kum Hong)

The Government has not thought very much about the social support structures that have to come in tandem with import of foreign workers but has just liberalized the recruitment of these workers (resulting in abuse). (Jolovan Wham)

Electoral Fairness, Not Patronage!

January 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
14 January 2010

(I originally wrote this article for The Online Citizen.)

In his article entitled “A masterstroke?” (Jan 9), TODAY correspondent Loh Chee Kong argued that the recent proposal of allowing more NCMP seats might fragment the opposition and diminish the lure of trying to capture a GRC.

Loh argued that the extra NCMP seats would test the opposition’s unity and cohesiveness as candidates from rival parties would now have an incentive to compete against each other to be one of the nine “best losers” rather than focusing the fight against the PAP.

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