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Archive for the ‘Letters’ Category

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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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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The ugly truth about “your” HDB flat

Posted by temasektimes on September 22, 2018

So recently you have heard the following about “your” HDB.

1. You are a Lessee and not an owner.

2. HDB is your landlord.

3. Older HDB’s will decline in Value.

4. HDB will eventually go to Zero.

5. There is a long list of things you can’t do in your own home and they are thinking of adding smoking to that list.

6. Besides the Police , IMDA civil servant officers can already break in to your home without a warrant if they want to investigate you and now they want to give that power to NEA officers.

7. HDB are becoming unaffordable for newer generations.

8. Although they say it has to be 99 years lease to protect future generations most sites currently redeveloped under SERs were sold to private developers and turned in to private Condo’s and not new HDBs

9. Some new HDBs are being built down wind from toxic chemical and industrial facilities while private units are built in choice locations.

10. You are charged for land you never own in the price.

11. You pay property tax on a building you never own while you stay there.

12. When the landlord does any upgrading of his estate or building such as in HIP you have to pay for it.

13. HDB mortgage for the last 20 years has average almost 1% above the bank rate yet you are told it is a special rate.

14. Your life savings (CPF) are tied to your HDB and are being affected as older HDB’s are already going down in price and hard to sell.

15. You over paid for your resale flat because you were led to believe it was an investment and an appreciating asset when actually it depreciates and finally goes to zero.

16. Your retirement is now tied to your HDB which goes to Zero and at risk.

17. If you break any of your landlords rules they can take away your home with no compensation regardless if you have paid for it in full.

18. You have nothing you can leave to your children so your hard work and sacrifice is wasted and they have to repeat the whole cycle again.

Given your HDB has been shown to not be an investment, you don’t own it, there is a massive list of do’s and dont’s when you stay there, Government officers can enter it at will, HDB can reposses it at will and you over paid for it and have zero value left after a lifetime of work what is positive about your HDB?

When we create new policies to fix all of the above that is wrong with HDB we also want to expand upon what you think is right.

Thank you.

 

BRAD BOWYER

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Disappointed with NUS’s silence over Prof Henry Yeung’s reckless driving

Posted by temasektimes on September 20, 2018

Hi,
I am an NUS alumnus and I have been donating to NUS for the past ten years.

I am writing to express my disappointment, disgust and outrage over NUS’s perceived lack of action against its staff Professor Henry Yeung Wai Cheung who was arrested for dangerous driving:

Maserati driver who went over road divider and against oncoming traffic arrested for dangerous driving: Police

According to videos circulating on social media, this is not the first time Professor Yeung was caught with reckless, inconsiderate and dangerous driving.

On the same day he was arrested, he was filmed making an illegal U-turn in Bishan:

His actions not only pose a danger to himself, but to other road users as well. It is indeed fortunate that nobody has been injured or killed by him as of now.

Is this the kind of educator NUS want for its students?

I am shocked and flabbergasted beyond words that NUS has remained silent on the matter so far and would only refer it to the Traffic police when asked for its comments.

Does NUS condone the actions of Professor Henry Yeung? Is NUS protecting him?

Regardless of how knowledgeable, successful or capable one is as an academic, a university professor, FIRST AND FOREMOST is a teacher who must set the RIGHT EXAMPLE for the students.

His behavior so far, with scant regards for the safety of other road users, demonstrate clearly an underlying psychological problem, an inability to control his emotions and a callous disregard for life.

As such, he is UNFIT not only to be given the honorific title of “Distinguish Professor”, but must be stripped of all his titles and beterminated from the school’s employment.

This is not a matter which we will forget easily. Let not the actions of one person taint the reputation of NUS which many have worked hard over the years to build it up.

Regards,

Jason Koh

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A Singaporean’s show of “appreciation” to the PAP ministers’ “hard work”

Posted by temasektimes on September 12, 2018

Dear Ministers,

It’s very sad to hear that you are paid only a measly 4 months salary as bonus. This taking note of how much your are doing resting in parliament and always ever ready to rebut the opposition. Being brave in the reasoning of inflation, social issues and and standard if living by not mentioning a word to rectify it.

Having your way to meet the residents once a week to give out sheets of white paper with your initials, to prove you are doing your work.

Going rounds at hawker centres and old folks’ homes just to hug the old ladies and take photo to prove that you are the people’s person, especially with the dreaded elections in mind. Such a stressful activity.

Giving excuses in parliament that Singaporeans are living healthily and wealthy with their monthly salaries, as only 1000 is enough for lining in Singapore. So cheap it is the cost of living, it just feels like we are a self sustaining continent of our own.

Pushing teachers to pay for their own parking expenses, as you stand by your idea that no one is above the nation, even if it’s a civil servant minus that only if you are a MP visiting your ward or on official work, then everything is free with a security to even guard the car.

Opening the eyes of all Singaporeans that how much space we are wasting in our luxurious and bird cage styled houses, when a small space is enough for living. Just like our forefathers, even ten people can cramp into a room and succumb to diseases back then, why not now we can’t do it. These Singaporeans are having a very good life it seems.

The suffering, the hardships, the thousands of miles of walking and the hand aching handshakes to the thousands and counting. How much you guys suffer just for these measly pay that is not even comparable to what an average Singaporean earns.

It’s so heart wrenching that you are giving your services without expecting much in return, on top of your other earnings. Your nobility is the sign of the blue whale climbing the oak tree, just to show the other sea creatures that oak trees can only be climbed by blue whales.

 

ROCKY RENGA

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Letter to Lawrence Wong: Why can’t my fully paid up HDB flat be used as a collateral by the banks?

Posted by temasektimes on September 7, 2018

Dear Mr Wong,

 

All users of leasehold properties, whether public or private, enjoy ownership rights over their properties during the period of the lease. But would you care to explain the following for the benefit of many who still harbour doubts over the definition of what exactly ownership entails:

1. If I buy a resale HDB flat on the open market (with no subsidy) why do I have to wait 5 years and need HDB’s permission to rent my entire flat to interested parties, even if my unit is fully paid up? No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

2. Why do I need permission from HDB to rent out any of my rooms if my unit is fully paid up? No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

3. Why do I need to wait at least 5 years before I can sell my unit even though it was bought on the open market with no subsidies? No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

4. If I am a single owner of a resale HDB unit and want to marry my partner, why does my partner have to sell her private property if I have not lived in my flat for at least 5 years? No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

5. If I truly enjoy ownership rights to my HDB flat, why will banks not accept my fully paid-up property as collateral for a loan? No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

6. If I not abide by any of the above points as stipulated by the HDB I could have my unit confiscated. No such ruling applies if I buy a private apartment.

Well Mr Wong you seem to give the impression that there is no difference between the owner of an HDB leasehold property and a private property, as does our PM. But based on the above points there seems to be a substantial difference. Would you or someone at the HDB care to clarify?”

GERARD ONG

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Explain why HDB flats will revert back to government after 99 years

Posted by temasektimes on September 6, 2018

What nonsense is Lawrence Wong spewing when he says HDB leasehold owners are owners and enjoy ownership rights?

HDB has a list of rules that you have to comply with including pet ownership, rental etc. and the pain of reacquisition of your flat at very painful penalties sic. eviction. HDB owners ARE just renters and lease holders. Even simple renovations require landlord’s (HDB) approval.

I have similar rules when I lease out my private property to people who want to rent my properties including termination clauses just like HDB has.

The difference is I collect my rental monthly, HDB collects all 99 years rental upfront, and collects even more if you can’t afford to pay all 99 years rental upfront by lending you the shortfall and collecting interest.

Tell it like it is, don’t play with words and semantics. The government has always stated that our HDB is our property and will always have value and will appreciate, now you say its value will decline and is worthless after 99 years and reverts to the govt. EXPLAIN IT !

We are told owning our homes gives us something to defend and be rooted on (hence NS), now it turns out I am only defending my leasehold that becomes worthless and in reality am defending my landlord’s (HDB) property.

Chee Wei Li

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Government always “pow chiat” in sale of HDB flats

Posted by temasektimes on August 30, 2018

The government always “pow chiat” (“win” in Hokkien) when they sell HDB flats to Singaporeans.

We are considered owners when they want you to pay property tax, but we are only tenants when they say your lease is up after 99 years.

We are owners when the flat is due for repair works, but we are only tenants when considering our right to a free car park.

We are owners when there is inter-floor leakage problem with our neighbours, but we are only tenants when they require you to get HDB consent to rent out a room or two.

We are owners when we are required to pay a down-payment for the purchase of a HDB flat, but we are only tenants who cannot use our flats as collateral to borrow from the bank.

Either way, they win, we lose!

PETER ONG

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Malaysian living in Singapore: Why I will never want to retire here

Posted by temasektimes on October 25, 2012

I’m a Malaysian who has been living in Singapore for the past 13 years and I have to say that Alvin is right. I miss the laid-back easy life back home. But I chose to focus on my career and Singapore is the place to do it. If I want a lil Livin’ and some soulful action i just hop across the border. In SG i switch off. In Malaysia i switch on. It has worked well for me and i simply learn to enjoy the best of both worlds.

The thing I love about Singapore is the Safety factor. The thing I hate about Singapore is how they tend to blow things out of proportion esp about the crime rate. The crime rate in malaysia is the same as what you get in Sydney, New York and London. Singaporeans will pay thousands to fly there for holiday but squeal at the thought of driving across to JB. Seriously, if you keep reading Straits Times, then you will have been thoroughly brainswashed by the bullshit newspaper that scares the crap out of you about driving into Malaysia so that you will spend your money in SG and not in MY.

Both countries have their good and bad. However, I will NEVER want to retire in Singapore simply because I wont be able to afford it and I don’t think i want to be surrounded by concrete jungle when I’m in my 60′s and 70′s.

SPLITNIC

*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.

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