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Archive for the ‘Gerald Giam’ Category

New Cabinet line-up throws up some surprises

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 30, 2008

Gerald Giam

The new Cabinet announced by the Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday evening unveiled some surprises in both promotions and non-promotions.

The most significant promotion was that of MP for Sembawang GRC K. Shanmugam, who has been appointed as the new Law Minister. That he was appointed as an office holder at the Ministry of Law was not unexpected.

He had been mentioned in the press quite a few times as a likely successor to Prof S. Jayakumar, who has been the Minister for Law since 1988.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 23 Comments »

TOC’s focus on Malaysia

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 25, 2008

The Dawn of a New Malaysian Malaysia?

Gerald Giam

In the wake of the political tsunami of the recent Malaysian elections which saw the opposition alliance breaking the ruling coalition’s two-thirds majority in Parliament, it has become apparent that the Opposition is serious about reforming the country’s race-based affirmative action policies.

The alliance of opposition parties, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), and their de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, have stated that they will dismantle the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the states they now control — Penang, Selangor, Perak, Kelantan and Kedah.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 9 Comments »

Another alleged JI member detained…but where is Mas Selamat?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 23, 2008

Gerald Giam

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced the detention of another alleged Jemaah Islamiah (JI) member. Rijal Yadri bin Jumari, 27, was arrested in February for his involvement in the JI.

According to MHA, at the time of his arrest, Rijal was known to be working with some foreign JI elements to discuss regrouping and reviving the JI’s clandestine network. Rijal was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 20 March.

MHA accused Rijal of being a member of the JI’s “Al-Ghuraba” cell. This was a cell set up by the JI leadership to develop its young members to become trained operatives and future leaders in the organisation. MHA says Rijal was schooled at the JI’s madrasahs. He was one of several students talent-spotted by the JI to be groomed to become a future leader in the JI organisation.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 16 Comments »

Escape has yet to dent govt’s hubris

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 6, 2008

By Gerald Giam

While in a cab last Saturday, I recalled the newspapers reporting that within hours of alleged Jemaah Islamiah leader Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from detention, a broadcast was sent to all taxis urging them to look out for the escaped terrorist. Wanting to verify this, I asked the cabby when exactly he received that broadcast.

“They didn’t tell us until the next day!” he replied in Mandarin. “And after making such a big blunder, what’s the point of apologising?”, he continued, ending off with, “Ta ma de!” which loosely translates to “Damn it!” in English.

With just that innocent question, I had not expected to ignite such anger in that otherwise polite taxi driver. It was then I realised that I was not alone in feeling upset at the fact that the government allowed a potentially dangerous man to slip away so easily from detention last Wednesday afternoon. An AFP report published by The Straits Times (2 March) reported that the government has come under unusually “stinging public criticism” after the escape.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 40 Comments »

Knowledge-based economy needs more Uni education financing

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 20, 2008

By Gerald Giam

FINANCE Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced in his 2008 Budget Speech that the Government will increase the CDC/CCC-University Bursaries for students from the lowest 20 percent of households from $1,000 to $1,600. This is a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the increase is probably not enough to cover the 7 to 20 percent hike in tuition fees recently announced by Singapore‘s three publicly-funded universities. Singaporean students will now have to fork out between $6,360 and $18,230 a year for undergraduate courses.

The ever-increasing cost of tertiary education is a cause for worry.

Many experts believe that education is the best socio-economic leveller. One of the most important ways to facilitate social mobility is education, and tertiary education in particular.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 24 Comments »

TOC Policy Feature: Improving Singapore’s Public Transport System – A Commuter’s Perspective

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 4, 2008

By Gerald Giam, Selene Cheng, et al.

Objective

This paper seeks to highlight problems and provide suggestions for improving the public transport system in Singapore. It is based on the author’s own experiences as a middle-income commuter who relies almost exclusively on public transport, with input received from fellow commuters.

Land transport a key focus for 2008

In his New Year’s Day message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that a key focus for 2008 for the government is to improve our public transport system, so that more Singaporeans will take buses and trains instead of driving cars. He acknowledged that the government “can do more to make public transport a choice mode of travel”.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC Feature | 40 Comments »

Means testing or comprehensive medical insurance?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 30, 2008

By Gerald Giam

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan has announced that means testing will likely be implemented in restructured hospitals by the end of this year.

Although the details of how it is going to be administered have not been confirmed, one fact seems clear: Many middle-income Singaporeans are going to have to foot larger medical bills in the near future.

Low income Singaporeans can probably breathe easy as means testing is unlikely to negatively affect them, since the Minister has said that only the top half of income earners who stay in Class B2 or C wards will undergo a means test.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam, TOC's Writers | 15 Comments »

Cabby’s actions now not “illegal”. He only “flouted rules”

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 9, 2008

By Gerald Giam

Last night (this morning actually), I wrote a post commenting about the article, Discount ads on taxis illegal: LTA, which appeared in the late Monday night (7 Jan) edition of the Straits Times. The sub-header was, “Marketing tactics and soliciting are against company rules and the law“. The ST usually publishes a teaser of a breaking story for the next day’s print edition.

In my blog post, I had questioned how the actions of the taxi driver could have been illegal. He had simply placed a handwritten cardboard sign at his windscreen offering to waive the new peak hour surcharge.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam | 3 Comments »

83% Hike in Taxi Fares not Comforting at all

Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 12, 2007

By Gerald Giam

The newspaper, TODAY, carried this report in its August 14, 2007, issue:

“For the half-year ended June 30, 2007, ComfortDelGro achieved an
8.6-per-cent increase in revenue to about $1.5 billion. Net profit rose
10.5 per cent to $113.9 million.”
(Click here and here)

Comfort Delgro is the parent company which also runs SBS Transit, besides their fleet of taxis.

83 per cent.

Yes that’s how much more I calculated it would cost to take a cab from my mother-in-law’s place in Tiong Bahru to my home in Sembawang.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam | 13 Comments »

Who really is “not ready” for a non-Chinese PM?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 11, 2007

By Gerald Giam

The recent announcement of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s promotion to Finance Minister — in addition to his current Education portfolio — set many tongues wagging as to whether he might be the successor to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong many moons from now. (link)

This in turn sparked a debate in the Straits Times as to whether Singaporeans (read: the Chinese-speaking majority) are ready to accept and support a non-Chinese prime minister.

This isn’t the first time this issue has surfaced. Mr Lee Kuan Yew once said that former Cabinet Minister S. Dhanabalan was one of the four men he considered as his successor, but decided against him as he felt Singapore was “not ready” for a non-Chinese prime minister. That was almost 20 years ago.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam | 24 Comments »

How to deliver economic growth but lose an election

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 25, 2007

By Gerald Giam

How is it possible to preside over a booming economy and yet still lose a national election?

Australia‘s outgoing Prime Minister John Howard may be puzzling over that question as he conceded defeat to the opposition Labor party in just-concluded federal elections.

“I have reformed the Australian economy and left it the envy of the world,” said a subdued Mr Howard as he conceded defeat after 11-and-a-half years in power. He had previously won four general elections and has presided over Australia‘s booming economic growth since becoming prime minister in 1996.

Indeed, Mr Howard’s Liberal-National Coalition’s campaign theme was that the economy is safer in their hands than in the hands of an “inexperienced” Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat, the leader of the opposition and now prime minister-elect.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam | 22 Comments »

Co-ordinated, carrot-and-stick approach needed for Burma

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 31, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Monks return to the streets of Burma. (BBC)

No one party will be able to bring about lasting change for the better in Burma on its own.

By Gerald Giam

The shooting appears to have stopped, but the sufferings of the 47 million people of Burma are far from over. Effectively, little has changed from the time the popular uprising against the military government first began in August.

The strongman, Senior General Than Shwe, still wields absolute power in the country; opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi still remains under house arrest; thousands of protest leaders remain under arrest; and ordinary civilians are still cowed down in their homes.

However some glimmers of hope are appearing.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gerald Giam | 7 Comments »