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Uniquely Singapore, F1 or F9: “Residents willing to pay more for service and conservancy”?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 2, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian and Andrew Loh

The following article was first published here in TOC on the 2nd of Oct 2007. The Straits Times has a report titled “New rule to safeguard council funds“, December 2nd 2007, which addresses some of the issues in our article.

In a report titled “Punggol 21 Plus masterplan is a long-term one: Grace Fu” on the 15th of September 2007, Channelnewsasia website stated:

“But according to feedback to HDB, 81 percent of residents said they were willing to pay more for service and conservancy to enjoy the new flat designs. About half of them said they were willing to pay above S$10 more than the usual rates.”

The report did not reveal the details of the “feedback” which HDB had received. How the percentage of 81% was arrived at was also not revealed.

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Posted in Andrew Loh, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, Recommended Reads | 12 Comments »

NMP’s views at odds with AIDS relief research paper

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 27, 2007

By Jinesh Lalwani and Choo Zheng Xi

Safe sex awareness pamphlets censored as pornography. Information booths closed down for distributing “illegal” content. Awareness outreach funding stifled by choking off of charity fundraisers by homosexual groups.

The government has given its repeated assurances that s377A of the Penal Code criminalizing ‘gross indecency’ between two men will not be enforced. However, evidence from healthcare workers on the ground seems to highlight a far more insidious effect of 377A.

A paper by Aids relief expert Associate Professor Roy Chan, President of Action for Aids Singapore, highlights how 377A hobbles HIV prevention efforts by the local sexual healthcare community.

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Posted in Choo Zheng Xi, Current Affairs, Recommended Reads | 22 Comments »

Government using hyperbole to justify public protests ban

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 26, 2007

By Gerald Giam

The Singapore Government has once again employed the use of hyperbole to justify its near-total ban on public demonstrations, whether peaceful or not.

In his letter to the Straits Times and TODAY, the deputy director at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cautioned that “(t)he worst race riots in Singapore history began as peaceful processions”.

Let’s examine that statement a little more closely by looking at the history of riots in Singapore.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, Recommended Reads | 19 Comments »

TOC Feature: 377A – To prevent what harm?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 10, 2007

By Michael Hor

Curiously, the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of 2007, proclaimed as the result of only the second comprehensive review of Singapore’s 136 year old criminal code, is likely to be remembered more for what it did not do than for what it did.

To be sure, there is much reform in the Bill, and much that is uncontroversially needed. Many of the changes are technical in nature and would require some acquaintance with the intricacies of criminal law to appreciate.

Not so the issue of whether consensual gay sexual activity between adults ought to continue to be criminalized. When the proposed amendments were unveiled in November last year, few other matters in the document so dominated public discourse. Yet after many months, much feedback and careful deliberation, nothing has changed.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, Recommended Reads, TOC Feature | Tagged: , , | 80 Comments »

Is compulsory Longevity Insurance necessary?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on September 21, 2007

SUMMARY (in italics, by Yeo Toon Joo, Peter): Contrary to the Manpower Minister’s protestations in parliament over CPF’s poor rates of return to members and the unpopular proposed longevity insurance scheme, the Government, if it so inclines, can ensure a good monthly pay-out for Singaporeans who live beyond 85 – without making all Singaporeans contribute compulsorily to the scheme.

The Government should not spend the $1.2 billion one-off payout for bonuses tied to the later draw-down of the Minimum Sum. It should instead set aside that sum and grow it at 5 per cent.

By 2042, the year the 85 and above longevity insurance kicks in, that amount would have swelled to $6.6 billion – enabling a pay-out of $52 million a month for 15 years until age 100 for our aged Singaporeans.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, Recommended Reads | 6 Comments »

Unanswered questions about CPF changes

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 24, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

This is in reference to media reports that the CPF Special, Retirement and Medisave accounts’ rates will be modified next year.

The question that may be in every Singaporean’s mind is whether the peg to “an appropriate long term bond rate” may result in a higher or lower average rate, compared to the 4 per cent fixed rate now?

Channelnewsasia reported Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen as saying:

“… the new rates will be lower initially than the current rate of 4 percent but it should do better than 4 percent over time.” (link)

What is the basis for the statement that “the new rates will be lower initially than the current 4 per cent but it should do better than 4 per cent over time”?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, Recommended Reads, The Poor | 15 Comments »

Myanmar regime belongs in the dog house

Posted by theonlinecitizen on June 6, 2007

By Gerald Giam

The extension of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s imprisonment on 27 May 2007 was a widely expected move by the country’s military government which has already kept her under detention for most of the 17 years since she won national elections by a landslide in 1990.

While Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia have voiced their dissatisfaction with the lack of democratic progress in Myanmar, there is still a lot more that the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can and should do to push the recalcitrant regime towards the path of democracy.

ASEAN needs to send a strong and unambiguous message of disapproval to Myanmar or risk becoming a laughing stock, irrelevant to the rest of the developed world.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, Recommended Reads | 6 Comments »

Artificial Dynamism?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 7, 2007

By Ned Stark

“It’s not possible for us to be hermetically sealed and to close out to the world, and this is just a jewel box by itself because our people travel, millions of people come to Singapore, and even if you don’t travel, you’re on the Internet, everything is available so we have to grow up in this environment, and we have to open our doors and windows, and if a few flies come in, well so be it, we’ll swat them.”

– PM Lee Hsien Loong , “Singapore’s future bright if growth hits 3-5% yearly”

Singapore embarking on the pathway to be a dynamic international city is a sound one, as I have said somewhere in the depths of the past, such a solution is the only tenable one in the long run since there is no way Singapore can continue to compete with China and India just by relying on workers, no matter how skilled or unskilled they may be. However, as the saying goes, saying is one thing, doing is another.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Ned Stark, Recommended Reads | 8 Comments »

The First Tier of The First World: Beyond the Bottom Line

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 6, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian & Choo Zheng Xi

Like a responsible board of directors, we may have been constantly keeping our eyes on the bottom line, obsessing over the most cost efficient solutions to build up the solidly reliable Singapore Brand. Perhaps, keeping a country together requires something more than keeping a company solvent, profitable and growing.

But what is it?

While economic news is regularly upbeat, some of the ‘softer’ indicators of success may seem to be going south almost as quickly as our GDP’s going up. Sometimes, the response to these, like a dismissive board of directors faced with corporate social responsibility activists, is to explain away some of these statistics as soft numbers. But aggregated, these ‘soft’ numbers may paint a disturbing picture. Perhaps some of the following statistics give an idea of what we may be leaving by the wayside in our rush to reach ‘the first tier of the First World’:

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Posted in Choo Zheng Xi, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, Recommended Reads | 1 Comment »

Why’re we like that?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 27, 2007

By Zyberzitizen

It is quite depressing to hear what has been said lately – by government officials and some others – about how so many are leaving the civil service, how we must essentially seduce them with money, and how much exactly (down to the last dollar) we should be paying them to stay in service of their country.

As I said in my blog, one glaring aspect missing in this whole discourse is the question of what kind of leaders we have and we want to have, actually.

My mom, who is in her 70s, is not highly-educated. She only has primary school education. But she speaks more sense than most people I know. So, she asked me the other day, after watching the news:

“Why’re we throwing money at every problem we face? We have traffic jams, we increase ERP. We don’t have enough teachers, we throw money to increase their salaries. Not enough nurses, we throw money. Helping the poor, we increase GST. Old age population? Increase GST. People going to JB to fill up petrol, we fine them. Don’t flush toilet, fine them. Now, want people to serve their country must have millions of dollars salaries. Why are we like that?”

It’s a simple question – “Why’re we like that?” – but it got me thinking about fundamentals.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Recommended Reads | 2 Comments »

Budget 2007 – Changes necessary in our fiscal policy

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 9, 2007

By Edmund

PM Lee announced in November 2006 two significant fiscal policy changes in the first parliament session after the election in May. First, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be increased to 7%, up from the present 5%. The GST hike by two percentage points will raise at least $1.5 billion of tax revenue per year.

Second, the definition of net investment income (NII) will be broadened to include realised capital gains. Currently, the NII recognises only interest income and dividends. The Constitution allows the government to spend, during its term, all the NII from current reserves and up to half of the NII from past reserves. The inclusion of realised capital gains could increase annual revenue by about $2 billion.

Since the announcement, the buzz has initially been focused on financing an enhanced social safety net to help the lower-income group and meet the rising social expenditure needs of an ageing population. The argument has since widen to improving Singapore’s competitiveness to foreign investors by reducing income tax for companies and the rich, and to fund infrastructural developments. In particular, SM Lee announced in January a corporate tax cut of at least 1 percentage point in the budget to be presented on Feb 15.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Edmund, Recommended Reads | 3 Comments »

Complicity in the senseless murder of a young boy

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 27, 2007

By Zyberzitizen

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi.

Will we remember him – or even his name? Will it matter to us? Does it matter to us? Why should we care about a Nigerian who is convicted of trafficking drugs? Why should we care about him who is now dead – sentenced to die and hung by our esteemed courts of well-trained, experienced judges?

Indeed, why care at all when he is not the only or first person to die by the noose for drugs trafficking?


Because we are complicit in his death.

Who are ‘we’?

The government , the elected MPs, the media, the courts, the local lawyers who kept quiet, the opposition parties who kept quiet, the public who kept quiet.

The society which turned a blind eye.

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Posted in Citizen Speak, Current Affairs, Recommended Reads | 101 Comments »