THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Archive for September, 2018

Prime land from SERS was sold to private developers

Posted by temasektimes on September 30, 2018

I refer to the letter by Mr M Manimaran published on 21 September 2018.

I agree with him the important role played by HDB to house an entire generation of Singaporeans in the early years of our nation’s development.

However, it appears that there is a change of strategic goals and direction in HDB beginning from the 1990s.

Like you, I lived in Bukit Merah since the day I was born. Around 1998/1999, we received a letter from HDB saying that our block was selected for Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). I remember there are still more than 50 years of lease left in our block.

Read rest of article here.

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The ‘HDB’ propaganda war has begun?

Posted by temasektimes on September 29, 2018

So much continuing propaganda on the ‘HDB’ issue to gain or erode the public’s trust? 

Open the Sunday Times of 23 September, and you see glaring at you in the top right hand corner of the front page – “Cheaper, bigger, and better location – flats with ageing leases still have takers”.

There are altogether about 3.5 pages on HDB –

… “Old is gold for these buyers of ageing HDB flats

… “HDB upgrading programmes – Staying in good shape

The ‘HDB’ propaganda seems to to continue unabated, week after week. For example, in the last week:

… “HDB open to flexibility with LBS age requirement” (Straits Times, Sep 17)

… “Condo rents dip 0.1%; HDB rents rise 0.1%” (Straits Times, Sep 13)

… “Wider upgrading on horizon while Vers details are ironed out” (Straits Times, Sep 11)

… “Private developers may have role in redeveloping older flats” (Straits Times, Sep 11)

… “Nuggets of HDB town trivia at ST quiz site” (Straits Times, Sep 10)

… “Parliament: Private developers may have a role in redeveloping older flats for Vers, says Lawrence Wong” (Straits Times, Sep 10)

Now you know why our Press Freedom ranking is 151st in the world!

My friends said “aiyah, just look at the numbers stupid – just look at the onslaught no. of propaganda – if not a very very serious problem – no need so much propaganda lah – its so obvious!”

If all this is to gain the public’s trust, as highlighted in the online falsehood’s committee’s recommendations – then it may be somewhat overboard and overdone.

Perhaps the numbers that Singaporeans really need to see this issue from an objective perspective are:

… the Government should start to provide regular data on the price gap between older and newer HDB flat types in the different housing estates.

After all, isn’t this arguably, in the public interest, and in line with the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the public’s trust?

Leong Sze Hian

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Vivian Lai and husband Alain Ong have been “missing in action” for 6 days!

Posted by temasektimes on September 28, 2018

Embattled former Pokka CEO Alain Ong and his Mediacorp actress wife Vivian Lai have been “missing in action” for the past six days!

Since the Chinese tabloids broke news of Alain Ong being suspended as CEO of Japanese firm Pokka, the celebrity couple has stayed out of public eye and nowhere to be seen.

 

Source: Instagram

 

Reporters who visited their lavish $8 million dollar house were told by their maid that they are not at home though their cars were noted to be parked there.

Alain Ong sparked a massive outcry a few years ago when he said during a media interview that hiring Singaporeans for professional and managerial roles at a reasonable salary is “difficult” as they always ask for “unrealistic salaries.”

The couple was also criticized by some netizens for being “hao lian” when they showed off their newly bought semi-detached house to the media in April. Coincidentally, an internal audit was conducted by Pokka into Alain Ong and his management team shortly after he moved into his new house.

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PAP gives out more than 22,000 foreigners citizenship, second highest in 11 years

Posted by temasektimes on September 28, 2018

Despite its earlier promise to “moderate” the inflow of immigrants, the PAP continues to give out citizenship to foreigners!

According to a report released by the Prime Minister’s Office strategy group, 22,076 foreigners were given Singapore citizenship last year – the second highest number in the past 11 years:

Source: Prime Minister’s Office

 

The number of Singapore PRs given last year was 31,849, the 4th highest in the past decade.

The report added that “Singapore grants between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizenships annually to individuals who are committed to making Singapore their home.”

However, many of these newcomers do not have to serve National Service which is forced upon local born males who have to waste two years of their lives in the army.

As new citizens will usually vote for the ruling party which grants them the citizenship in the first place, their increasing numbers will play a critical role in future elections.

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More Singaporean women chose to remain single

Posted by temasektimes on September 27, 2018

According to population figures released on 27 September, more Singaporean women across all age groups are remaining single compared to a decade ago.

Among women aged 25 to 29, the proportion of singles increased from 60.9 percent in 2007 to 68.1 percent last year, a 7.2 percentage point difference.

The percent of singles among Singaporean women aged 30 to 34 also increase 3.9 percent to 32.8 percent. Those aged 40 to 44 increased 3.8 percent to 18.1 percent.

A higher percentage of men are staying single as well. For those aged 25 to 29, 80.7 percent are still single, compared to 77.5 percent a decade ago

 

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Ex-AMK Town Council manager charged for corruption used to earn $10,550 a month!

Posted by temasektimes on September 27, 2018

Former General Manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council Wong Chee Meng, who was slapped with 55 charges of corruptly accepting gratification from directors of two building and construction firm in exchange for “advancing the business interests” reportedly earn $10,550 a month!

 

Source: Facebook

 

The shocking details were revealed in court yesterday. Wong started out as a property manager at AMKTC before he was promoted to general manager in 2013.

Former PAP supreme leader Lee Kuan Yew had always advocated the need to pay public servants high salaries to “prevent corruption”. In this case, it appears that Wong is paid too poorly.

Till today, there are still no comments from the PAP on the colossal corruption which happened in their Town Council.

 

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The real “Almost Perfect Singapore” by a Singaporean

Posted by temasektimes on September 27, 2018

A Singaporean lady has done a parody of PAP vlogger Nas Daily’s controversial video titled “Almost perfect Singapore” singing generous praises of the PAP regime.

The parody video reveals the real aspects of Singapore that only locals and not foreigners like Nas can appreciate and understand:

 

sdsad

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CPF ad urges Singaporeans to top up CPF special accounts of their wives

Posted by temasektimes on September 27, 2018

Fearing that the baby boomers have little CPF savings left after using them to pay for over-priced public housing, the CPF Board has embarked on a massive propaganda drive to urge Singaporeans to top up the CPF special accounts of their wives.

In the 30 second video, a husband is shown giving his wife “a gift for the years ahead” with a statement from the CPF board showing her husband has topped up her Special Account under the Retirement Sum Topping-Up Scheme.

Towards the end of the video, CPF Board said:

“When you’ve been married for so long, it gets harder to find the right birthday gift for your spouse as time passes. Life has a way of creeping up on you. This year, why not surprise your spouse with a gift that keeps on giving even in the years ahead? The Future is Closer Than You Think. Be Ready with CPF.”

While many countries in the world has some sort of compulsory saving scheme for their citizens, Singapore is the ONLY country in the world where the government has the power to “lock up” the hard-earned lifelong savings of Singaporeans FOR LIFE.

Under the new CPF Life which kicks in at 65 years old, Singaporeans will only receive a monthly payout of annuity and are not allowed to withdraw their CPF savings in full.

Watch the video below:

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Substance of Thum Ping Tjin’s paper to the Select Committee has been overlooked by Singaporeans

Posted by temasektimes on September 26, 2018

In the spirit of media literacy to defend against fake news, I became curious about what PJ Thum submitted to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.

Out of 170 papers submitted, PJ was singled out in the Select Committee’s report and in the media.

The Select Committee says it gave “no weight” to PJ’s views on the basis that he lied about his academic credentials.

As a discerning person trying to avoid being misled by fake news, I went to the source – PJ’s paper – so that I could decide for myself whether PJ’s views were nonsense.

If so, I would know not to believe any nonsense in that paper if it arose again in future.

This is PJ’s 5-page paper – the one which resulted in a six-hour cross-examination. It can be read within 10 minutes, so if you’re on the train this is an easy read.

http://www.parliament.gov.sg/…/written-representation-83.pdf (note: link may download the paper automatically)

Starting with the credentials, PJ seems to have studied a lot.

1. Bachelor of Arts from Harvard (2000)
2. Bachelor of Arts (2004), Oxford
3. Master of Studies in Historical Research (2006), Oxford
4. Doctor of Philosophy in History (2011), Oxford
5. Attended Oxford on:
5(a) Rhodes scholarship (2002-2004) and
5(b) Commonwealth Scholarship (2006-2010)
6. Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute NUS (2012-2014)
7. Research Fellow in History and Coordinator of Project Southeast Asia at the University of Oxford (2014-present)

The Select Committee’s report alleges that the last position is inaccurately described, since PJ was a “visiting scholar at the Oxford Centre for Global History” and not a Research Fellow. Notably, PJ merely held an “unpaid position” at Oxford.

Now, we know what some people think of unpaid or low-paid work. So I can understand where this contempt for unpaid positions comes from.

The Select Committee has said nothing about items 1 to 6.

While I would not want to undergo surgery if I found out that my doctor in fact is a vet, I would still give weight to what a historian with PJ’s academic credentials has to say.

Wearing again a media literacy hat, I noted that the Select Committee made much of PJ’s credentials and the way he presented them, and that alone is supposed to discredit PJ’s views.

I therefore wanted to look at PJ’s views. Things PJ said include the following in quote marks (and my thoughts below each quote):

“The term “fake news”, however, has gained common currency across the world in the past year primarily due to U.S. President Donald Trump, whose election was allegedly aided by a Russian campaign to sow disinformation and fear among the American electorate.”

— Surely this is correct. The Select Committee itself has pointed to disinformation campaigns allegedly conducted by Russia which posed serious threats to the US, Ukraine, etc.

“Fake news” is impossible to define with any reasonable accuracy”

— I have not found a definition of “Deliberate Online Falsehood” in the Select Committee’s Report, but if anyone sees one do leave a comment.

“Sources [of fake news] are difficult to trace, difficult to prosecute, and domestic legislation will not stop foreign actors outside of Singapore”

— This is a good point. If the Government is truly concerned about foreign interference, we would see laws that attempt to deal with foreign actors like the Macedonian teens who were paid to write fake news and influence the US elections.

“There is already existing legislation which can address “fake news” / Clause 45 of The Telecommunications Act 1999… Minister of Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam cited this law and acknowledged that the current law had remedies to deal with falsehoods, but argued that it was ineffective…”

— This is interesting. I was not aware of this law.

“There is clear source of “fake news” which has spread falsehoods, with major impact, and hitherto escaped sanction. That is the politicians of Singapore’s People’s Action Party. The major examples of this are the numerous detentions under the Internal Security Act (ISA, and its predecessor, the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance) from 1963 to 1987… Operation Coldstore was conducted for political purposes, and there was no evidence that the detainees of Operation Coldstore were involved in any conspiracy to subvert the government.”

— I don’t know enough about Operation Coldstore (1963) save that people were detained without trial, but as someone interested in the founding years of Singapore I would like to find out more about this.

“Given the above, the solution to “fake news” should therefore be to: First, educate Singaporeans to be more thoughtful, critical, and skeptical towards information, regardless of source. This includes: The expansion of media literacy programmes… ”

— This is sensible. Building media literacy is contained in the Select Committee’s first recommendation (out of 22), even though no weight was given to PJ’s views.

“Second, constrain the ability of politicians to spread “fake news” and to increase transparency and accountability within the government. This would require:

· The repeal of the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act 1974, which effectively gives the government control over the media and disempowers the media to speak effectively and independently on information. A greater diversification and independence of responsible media is required to effectively combat “fake news”;

· An increase in transparency, for example through the establishment of a Freedom of Information Act which automatically declassifies all government documents after 25 years [5] unless they are specifically retained;

· The establishment of an independent government watchdog (Ombudsman) with the authority to investigate complaints against the government and censure government officials who mislead the public.”

— These are interesting recommendations, and worthy of consideration and debate. In particular, the history of the NPPA and its effects in terms of who has the power to own and control media in Singapore is interesting and should be made widely known as part of any good faith commitment to media literacy.

Having actually read PJ’s paper, I can’t help but wonder:

1. Of all of PJ’s views in his five-page paper, the focus is on the alleged “lie” about being a research fellow instead of a visiting scholar. Why not simply point to the *substance* of his paper and criticise it? The Select Committee did precisely this in respect of another written representation: “The Committee decided not to publish the written representation by Mr Alex Tan, being of the opinion that it was not made in good faith. It contained personal insults, irrelevant comments and sarcastic proposals.” (para. 15, Report of the Select Committee). This tells us in plain words what is wrong with the substance of Mr Alex Tan’s written representation.

2. If the detentions under Operation Coldstore were all justified because the detainees were part of a conspiracy to subvert the government, why not say that plainly? The Select Committee’s Dr. Janil Puthucheary is particularly well-placed to speak about Operation Coldstore since his father Dominic Puthucheary was one of the detainees of Operation Coldstore.

3. To give no weight to PJ’s paper because of his credentials (or lack thereof) suggests that if a different person repeated the content of the paper, we can give weight to the content. This is consistent with thought #1 above. But is PJ’s real offence his forceful questioning of the true nature of Operation Coldstore?

4. What does the Select Committee think of the Russian MFA’s 1-page submission: https://www.parliament.gov.sg/…/written-representation-169.…

5. Does the use of state power to whack a citizen in this ugly way trouble anyone at all? Since PJ submitted his paper to the Select Committee, he has repeatedly been attacked while the substance of his paper has been overlooked. Are these the standards of decency and debate to which a 53-year old democracy holds itself – or should we do better and look to some of the most well-paid politicians in the world to lead by showing what mature, decent and thoughtful public debate looks like? Might it not assist the Government’s case on the legitimacy of Operation Coldstore by releasing papers from 1963 – papers which are 55 years old and which are unlikely to pose any threat to national security in 2018 – so that the public can decide for itself? Do we believe that the efforts to educate a population for the past 53 years have produced a discerning and fair-minded population who could be trusted to look at the relevant documents about Coldstore, and form their own view about whether detainees were involved in a conspiracy to subvert the Government?

ERVIN TAY

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28 year old Singapore woman dies from drinking fruit juice containing steroids

Posted by temasektimes on September 26, 2018

A 28-year-old Singapore woman Titinlismawati passed away after drinking continuously some fruit juice from Geylang for a period of six months.

The fruit juice was touted to be able to relieve the pain caused by her gout in her legs. Gout is a chronic condition caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood which is derived from breakdown of protein in the food.

Source: Hardwarezone

 

Titinlismawati passed away last Friday after being admitted to hospital complaining of back pain. Suspecting her sudden death may have something to do with the fruit juice, the family handed it over to the investigating officers to run tests which revealed that it contains high levels of dexamethasone.

Dexamethasone is a strong steroid, a class of anti-inflammatory medicine use to treat inflammatory conditions like gout. Chronic intake of high dose of this medicine can suppress the body’s immune system leading to death.

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