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Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 12, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

The Unions, the Press, and the People – Part II

CASE’s Relationship with NTUC

Leong Sze Hian

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) founded the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in 1971, and it remains an institution member today. (938 Live) (CASE’s letter to Business Times)

According to NTUC’s web site:

The NTUC Family includes 9 co-operatives, and 6 affiliated organizations – the Singapore Labour Foundation, NTUC Club, NTUC Link, the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies, NTUC LearningHub, and the Consumers’ Association of Singapore, and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

NTUC is the parent body of CASE.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian | 31 Comments »

The Unions, the Press and the People

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 8, 2008

Leong Sze Hian & Choo Zheng Xi

Let the people eat…detergent?

Does the media’s reporting of detergent prices reveal a deeper conflict of interest that may harm the country?

Once in awhile pearls of wisdom are found in The New Paper. Larry Havekamp a.k.a. Dr Money, in his financial column in The New Paper, likened statistics to bikinis: what they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital (New Paper, May 5).

We refer to the article in the Straits Times headlined “Rice and cooking oil lead price rise: New Case survey of prices across retailers points out cheaper options for buyers” (Straits Times, May 3).

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Posted in Choo Zheng Xi, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian | 32 Comments »

Aljunied Town Council – Taking the easy way out?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 7, 2008

Leong Sze Hian & Andrew Loh

All 14 town councils run by the People’s Action Party (PAP) will not be increasing their Service and Conservancy (S&C) charges this year.

– Channel NewsAsia, “PAP town councils to freeze S&C charges this year” (February 28, 2008)

Barely two and a half months later, on May 5 2008, this is what ‘officials’ at the PAP-run Aljunied Town Council (TC) said:

Officials also said they will consider raising the conservancy charges for the dirtiest precincts to cover the extra work that goes into maintaining them …

– “Aljunied trash index aims to wipe out litterbugs.” (Straits Times, May 5, 2008)

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Posted in Andrew Loh, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian | 47 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 28, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

$3 billion benefits to cope with inflation?

Leong Sze Hian

With headlines in our local papers screaming “S’poreans in line for $3b payouts” (TODAY, April 15), “$3b payout over the next six months” (Straits Times), “2.4m S’poreans to get $3b in benefits this year” (Straits Times), one would be hard pressed to find anything amiss.

The Ministry of Finance’s (MOF) press release that some 2.4 million Singaporeans stand to get $3 billion in benefits this year, to help them cope with the rising cost of living, is laudable.

Until you sieve through the $3 billion help package itself.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian | 64 Comments »

NTUC’s “gift” – helping the poor or blatant exploitation?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 11, 2008

Leong Sze Hian and Andrew Loh

The National Trades Union Congress just announced a $4 million worth of assistance for 80,000 low-wage workers under the new discount vouchers scheme.

According to the Straits Times report, “NTUC’s $4m gift to less well-off workers”, the ST says:

“In all, about 80,000 lower-income union members can apply for these vouchers from NTUC.”

It goes on:

“Each voucher gets them a 5 per cent discount for every $10 spent at six NTUC cooperatives, including its childcare centres and pharmacies.”

Now, before we all start cheering the ostentatious generosity of the NTUC, read the report closely. You will notice that :

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Posted in Andrew Loh, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 74 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 7, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Public Accountability

Leong Sze Hian

In all the Parliamentary Debates, Singaporeans have never been told what the amount of our reserves is, by way of the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) and Temasek’s assets.

In the ChannelNewsAsia report,

“Young NTUC members ask wide range of questions at forum” (15 March 2008), it states that :

“The audience also got the answer to perhaps one of the biggest money question of them all.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 44 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 31, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Medishield – one of the most profitable in the world

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on the Ministry of Health (MOH).

In 2006, as a result of requiring all private insurers’ CPF Shield plans to incorporate MediShield, the number of MediShield policyholders grew from 1.26 million to 2.75 million in 1 year. Its loss ratio was only 53 per cent ($67 million paid out over $126 million premium collected in the first 10 months of 2006).

In this connection, MediShield’s loss and expense ratio improved to 40 per cent ($119 million claims and expenses over $297 million collection), according to CPF Board’s 2006 annual report. (CPF)

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 24 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 23, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Employment statistics

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on the Ministry of Manpower, and media reports that the economy added 234,900 jobs, up from 176,000 jobs in the previous year.

Of these, 90,400 jobs went to locals last year, down from 90,900 the previous year, but the local share of total jobs created dropped from 52 per cent in 2006 to 38 per cent last year.

A record 46,900 became PRs, in the first 9 months of 2007, and 7,300 became Singapore citizens in the first half of 2007. Therefore, the estimated number of PRs and new citizens for the whole year was 62,533 and 14,600 respectively.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 22 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 17, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Is the HDB fulfilling the needs of Singaporeans?

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the report “Government to proceed with HDB estate upgrading” (CNA, Feb 24), where it was reported that:

“On the recent record of more than 10,000 applications received for almost 280 surplus flats in mature estates, Mr Mah said it is not possible for the HDB to build flats on a need basis.”

If the HDB does not build flats to meet the needs of Singaporeans, then to whose needs does it build flats for?

By what criteria should we measure the performance of the HDB – and the Minister for National Development?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 57 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore, F1 or F9: HDB Lease Buy-back?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 10, 2008

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “HDB unveils ‘income for life’ scheme for the elderly” (ST, Feb
29).

The HDB will pay $87,000 plus a $10,000 government subsidy ($5,000 cash + $92,000 to CPF Life), for the balance 40 years of the lease, on a flat with a 70-year lease.

In a normal reverse mortgage, the cash withdrawals are charged interest like a loan, which is offset against the market value of the home at death.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 13 Comments »

CPF Life – does it really address retirement needs?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 26, 2008

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Income that stretches a lifetime, under new scheme” (BT, Feb 13).

Under the old CPF system, a minimum sum (MS) of $ 67,000 at age 55, at the old guaranteed interest rate of 4 per cent, can provide a monthly payout of $ 600, from age 65 to 85.

Under the proposed Lifelong Income scheme (LI), the extra 1 per cent interest on the average yield of the 10 year government bond plus 1 per cent, if assumed to average 5 per cent, will provide a monthly payout of about $610 (male) or $570 (female) for as long as one lives.

Using the same 5 per cent under the old scheme can provide $720 a month, for 20 years – which is more than the $610 or $570 one would get from the new LI scheme.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, TOC's Writers | 10 Comments »

Uniquely Singapore – F1 or F9: Income statistics?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 13, 2008

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Economic growth key to dealing with rising costs: PM: He says incomes must rise more than inflation, and growth means more income” (ST, Feb 9).

It states that “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that while measures can be taken to deal with rising living costs, the way to deal with the issue was by growing the economy so that real incomes rise more than inflation.

He said on Thursday that when the economy grew by 7.5 per cent last year, incomes did not just rise at the top end, but across the board. ‘Even (at) the bottom, the middle, everybody’s real income went up'”.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian | 9 Comments »