I noticed that many people tend to express frustrations but yet continue to reward the bad behavior. We seem to be penny wise and pound foolish. We tend to pass the bucket of responsibility, while lamenting the misfortune.

Would we pay a pound more for the same goods at the next shop who’s salesman does not sneer and chide us? What is the price of dignity?

Would we continue to purchase food from the hawker who smokes in front of our door, and let our children and parents breathe in the second-hand smoke? Would each and everyone exert commercial pressure to stop bad behavior that isn’t within the reach of law and regulations?

When will we stand together instead of passing the bucket to the politician? Would we be too selfish to stand together, and rather spend a penny lesser searching for the next available N95 mask?

 

The haze has many effects; Cough, shortness of breath, itchy throat, disappearing masks and this blog post. We even have Agung Laksono, the minister who is coordinating Indonesia’s response to the haze crisis saying “Singapore should not be behaving like a child and making all this noise.”[1] Hmm. It set me wondering whether we are justified to be “making all this noise”.

First, on the most selfish personal basis; how does the haze affects each and everyone within the zone of haze? Let’s focus on the PM2.5 particles. The 4pm reading for 24hr PM2.5 on 20th Jun is between 247-304 µg/m³. While the WHO last revised values for PM2.5 in 2005 are:
-10 µg/m³ for the annual average
-25 µg/m³ for the 24-hour mean (not to be exceeded for more than 3 days/year) [2]

What!? We are experiencing particles that far exceeded the limits. Why would the WHO set such a standard? Is there any evidence that the PM2.5 causes health damage?

“Health effect caused by short-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5), which is based on a daily standard, include:
-Premature death, especially death related to heart and lung diseases
-Increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for cardiovascular effects, such as non-fatal heart attacks and strokes.

Short-term PM2.5 exposures also are linked to increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for respiratory effects, such as asthma attacks, as well as increased respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. In addition, short-term PM2.5 exposures are linked to reduced lung function, especially in children and people with lung diseases, such as asthma.” [3]

In addition, “Because of the tiny size of the ultrafine particles (UFP) [aka PM0.1], these can penetrate the lung epithelium and enter the bloodstream. From there, particles can be transferred to liver, bone marrow, brain and heart, leading to a systematic infection.” [4]

Let me upgrade my medical insurance before continuing the post…

[1] Indonesia Says Singapore Behaving Like a Child over Haze. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/indonesia-says-singapore-behaving-like-a-child-over-haze/

[2] Health Effects of Particulate Matters (Final, English). http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/189051/Health-effects-of-particulate-matter-final-Eng.pdf

[3] The National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particle Pollution. http://www.epa.gov/pm/2012/fshealth.pdf

[4] M.M. Politis, C. Pilinis and T.D. Lekkas, Ultrafine Particles (UFP) and Health Effects Dangerous. Like No Other PM? Review and Analysis, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, Kos Island, 5-7 September 2007. http://www.gnest.org/journal/Vol10_No3/439-452_579_POLITIS_10-3.pdf

For those interested to read more:
Environment: Newly found health effects of air pollution call for stronger EU air policies. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-72_en.htm

 

The notion of a talent is someone who is more capable in specific skill-set than the average. Whereas worker is a general term which does not differentiate the skill-set of the worker; therefore encompassing both talent and uhm-hmm the rest.

In any economic that is driven by cutting edge research or evidently superior management that provides eye-popping profit, the hunt for the exceptional talent can be relentless.

However, there is a limited number of talents. Nationality does not determines whether one is a talent or not. A proper benchmarking of skill does.

Moreover, extrapolating such a need to the mass economy is dangerous. Not all sectors requires Noble Prize winners. The vanilla flavored service engineer does not need to be a talent; we need a worker who follows the procedures and not a creative personnel who thinks out of the box and put the cart before the horse.

If the justification that someone is employed because he or she is a talent and the position truly requires one, no one will cry and puff…. But perhaps some still will :D

 

Calls after calls.
Calls that are not “traceable” to originator.

With the few calls that get through, the telemarketers were promoting “Body Contour”.
Calling someone around 10 times per day to promote your company’s service is definitely NOT going to get you any customer.

 

Today (13th Nov 2011), one of my relative took AirAsia to Kuala Lumpur in the morning. Usually, the immigration white card will be offered in the plane. However, this morning, despite personally requesting for a copy of immigration white card (Arrival/Departure Card (Imm.26) ), my relative was told that there is not a single piece of immigration white card in the plane. My relative was asked to get the immigration white card at the low cost terminal (LCCT) on arrival.

Now, the next turn of event that happened was that there was not a single piece of immigration white card at the arrival hall of the low cost terminal! All the booths where the immigration white cards were usually placed at, were empty. Instead, my relative, like the at least hundreds of other passengers who arrived this morning at LCCT, was directly shepherd by an immigration officer to the immigration counters. This shepherding immigration officer told my relative and all the arriving passengers that “No white card is required”.

My relative, seeing that the passengers in the queue to the immigration counters were going through the immigration passport check without the immigration white card, followed accordingly.

Now, the nightmare happened when my relative tried to leave Malaysia. My relative was blocked from leaving at the Malaysia immigration, as my relative did not have the immigration white card slip. Cash was “requested” from my relative by the immigration officer.

I do wonder what can be done? I am sure many of the at least hundreds of passengers who arrived at LCCT on 13th Nov 2011 morning and are still in Malaysia, will have not only a holiday, but also a nightmare when there try to leave Malaysia.

 

I mourn for true democracy. Legally right, ethically wrong. A 40+% of votes to opposition translated to <7% of seats in parliament due to gerrymandering.

I mourn for the blind conviction of those who blindly bestowed the majority seats to a single party, allowing the single party free rein of making and amending our legal system.

Voting is the citizen’s privilege to decide on MP(s) who make and amend the legal framework of Singapore, and its cascading effect on our daily life, yet few voted with this understanding.

 

I hear many comments saying that the Alternative Parties have no concrete plans. That even if they are voted into the parliament, things will stay the same.

I will like to start with posing a question. If a certain Party has the majority seats in parliament, and decided to reward the selected ministers with say $1 trillion dollars, what will be needed? They will need the votes of the members of parliament to approve the bill. Do I get your attention?

In short, the voting power of the members of parliament is the crux to any concrete plans. Be it to pay the ministers say $1 trillion dollars, be it to approve or amend the bills regarding Retirement Age Bill, Income Tax Bill, Central Provident Fund Bill, Rapid Transit Systems Bill, Goods and Services Tax Bill, or Housing and Development Bill [1].

Every PAP MP has to toe the PAP party whip, and votes according to the party whip. (Do note that PAP MP’s can request on a case-by-case basis for the party whip to be lifted. [2]) This means that any party having the majority in the parliament has the power to pass any bills to perform whatever concrete plans.

In short, no majority in parliamentary, all “noise” (aka feedback, debates) in parliament, but no plans are possible.

[1] Bills Introduced, Parliament of Singapore, URL http://www.parliament.gov.sg/publications/Bills-Introduced
[2] PAP whip to be lifted for all MPs at times, The Business Times Singapore, March 21, 2002

 

There is a very interesting point being put across that the opening of abc company brings xyz jobs for the “local workforce”. Sometimes, instead the word “singapore resident” is used. Do you know what “local workforce” means under our Ministry of Manpower definition?

Refering to the definition in the “Calculation of Foreign Worker Quotas” provided by Ministry of Manpower,

Quoting MOM’s website  (as on 23 Apr 2011) :
‘Local workforce’ refers to those full-time employees (Singapore citizens or permanent residents) who have worked for a full month, and are receiving prompt monthly salary/CPF contributions which are similar to the industry norm[1].

Singapore depends on the market forces to decide whether the companies wish to employ Permanent Residents OR Singapore citizens as their local workforce. In the view of productivity, employment of Permanent Residents is very attractive, as Permanent Residents who are males, do not need to serve reservist, and Permanent Residents who are females, are not entitled to the last eight weeks (9th to 16th week) of maternity leave[2].

Back to the title, local workforce refers to Singapore Citizens OR Permanent Residents. It does not refers to only Singaporean.

References

[1] Calculation of Foreign Worker Quotas, Ministry of Manpower, http://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/foreign-worker-levies/Pages/calculation-of-foreign-worker-quotas.aspx

[2] Calculation of Foreign Worker Quotas, Ministry of Manpower, http://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/foreign-worker-levies/Pages/calculation-of-foreign-worker-quotas.aspx

Quoting MOM’s website (as on 23 Apr 2011) 

Maternity leave for a foreigner or PR working in Singapore
The employee is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave if she is covered under the Employment Act, regardless of her nationality. She will be paid by her employer for the first eight weeks of maternity leave if she has fewer than two living children (excluding the newborn), and she has served her employer for at least 90 days before the birth of the child. Beyond the first eight weeks, maternity payment from the employer is voluntary and the employer is not entitled to claim any reimbursement from the government.

Under the Children Development Co-Savings Act, an employee is entitled to maternity leave benefits if:
i.The child is a Singapore Citizen;
ii.The child’s parents are lawfully married; and
iii.The employee has served her employer for at least 90 days before the child’s birth.

Entitlement under Children Development Co-Savings Act
An eligible employee is entitled to absent herself from work four weeks immediately before and 12 weeks immediately after delivery, totalling 16 weeks.

 

As I go about doing my work, a song is stuck in my mind. 小人物的心声. 小人物refers to the commoners, while 心声refers to the voice from the heart. It was the theme song for the 1986 SBC TV Drama Serial芝麻绿豆. 20 years later, it was sung at NDP in 2006.

The election is drawing near, and many questions are on my mind. (A) What are the feelings of the commoners with this election process? (B) What will be the next term’s policies that will shape Singapore on the macro and micro level? (C) How will the election process and the policies impact the direction of the social fabric of the society?

(A) What are the feelings of the commoners with this election process? Do we feel that the candidates are qualified? (Coincidently, any 1987 baby will be about 27 to 28 years old in 2015, 4 years from now. Nobody will raise an eyebrow if there is another 27 or 28 years old candidate for the next election.) Do we feel that近水楼台先得月? Do we feel that the candidates are the “A” team Singaporeans, born and bred here?

(B) What will be the next term’s policies that will shape Singapore on the macro and micro level? Will these policies be in-touch with the commoners? Will the housing price deposit be more than 2 years of a working adult salary? Will the housing price be more than 10 years of a working adult salary? Will the cost of public transport continues to be “adjusted”? Will the public transport be sardine-packed? Will the buses whizzed pass either fully-packed or fan1 pai2? Will the taxi be disappearing or refused to pick up passengers at certain hours? Will the cost of basic necessities increase along with yearly inflation? Will the medical fees in the Public Hospital be comparable to private service in our neighbouring countries? Will the cost of elderly nursing home in Singapore be comparable to those in Johor Bahru? Will there be job security? Will we have to lower our remuneration and compete with lower wage “foreign talent”?

(C) How will the election process and the policies impact the direction of the social fabric of the society? Do we feel price out? Do we feel that we have to slave our entire working life just to pay for housing and living expenditure? Do we feel that it is a dog-eat-dog society? Do we feel that only those with connections get rewarded? Do we get the feeling that the elites show the get out of my uncaring face look? Do we feel that everything is about KPI where the measurements are statistics that can be twisted? Do we feel that an apprentice should be paid $15k per month? Do we feel that any government policy maker should be paid more than a million annually? Do we feel that there is any just? Do we feel the need for any ethics? Do we feel the need for any moral? Do we feel the need for loyalty? Do we feel that this is home and not just another house?

小人物的心声

也许我一个人, 不能成就一番大事业
但我尽力贡献一份微薄的力量

也许我自己, 不能发出万丈光和亮
但我能为斗室带来足够的光芒

我从来都不在乎, 自己不是一个大人物
因为平凡也是一种幸福

看到名人总是忙忙碌碌, 我的时间由我控制
平凡日子一样会充实

 

This is the month of March. Most people will know that it is the month when the performance grading and bonus in certain sector is being given out. Sometimes, we really do wonder, why does this certain sector seem to display a certain attitude?

Let’s just make things simple, by saying that there are just 2 kinds of people. The honest working kind, and the boot-licking wayang kind. Now, let me introduce the performance grading system that is in-place in some of the place(s).

A performance appraisal system involves the setting of tasks and outcome goals. This tasks and outcome goals are dependent on your past performance (it means what you had done last year) and your boss’s KPI. Following, when the appraisal period has reached, you will be graded based on the fulfillment of the tasks’ outcome, and (hey presto!) how happy you made your boss(es). The fulfillment of the tasks’ outcome will contribute to whether you will be penalized or not, while (superceding the previous condition) how happy you make your boss(es) will contribute to whether you will get a good grade or not.

So, isn’t it no brainers on why which kind of people will want to stay in the system?

© 2014 Alice Cheong Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha