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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Get rid of the old farts and 拍马屁

I used to have this thinking that the PAP will never loose a GRC but it has happened and now I am more than convinced that come the next general election, be it 2016 or earlier, the PAP is going to lose at least 1 more GRC, if not more. 

It is not just the fact that the PAP is not listening to the public; not the 6.9 million population fiascicsso or the inept handling of the transportation, housing and other policies. What I believe is going to happen to cause the PAP to lose more seats, be it GRC or SMC, is the misinformation that the PAP government is getting everyday which will cause them to read the grounds wrongly, come up with a wrong strategy and volia.... a defeat that they should but never see coming, like what has happened in Aljunied and Punggol East.

 How did I come to this conclusion? 

I was at a lunch hosted by an ex-minister over the Chinese New Year period.  The lunch was attended by a number of his grass roots leaders. I walked around and could not help but "eavesdrop" on the conversation of these grass roots leaders. Most of them are in their fifties and sixties. Without fail, almost everyone of their conversation was centred on how sad and unlucky that the ex-minister had lost in the GE. . They were whining and going on about how the PAP has lost despite the "good feeling" on the ground. And this is coming, like almost 2 years after the election!

On another occasion, I talked to someone else who was working in the town council and know both the MP and the grassroots well. His opinion was that they had lost because the old farts who were always surrounding the MPs in their walkabout, at the MPS were not telling the MP the truth. Like the eunuch in old China, they thought they were protecting their "bosses" from bad news.

Many of us are also familiar with the sight of cleaners scouring and cleaning up a neighbourhood whenever a Minister comes visiting. The old farts likened it to cleaning up the house before a guest come visiting. But the way they went about it, they literally camouflage every blemish, every speck of dirt so much so that whatever the Minister or MP see is a beautiful perfect world, not the litter infested place. There was one time I was at Redhill and I saw these cleaner scrubbing the floor tile with a tooth brush on the floor outside the RC Centre. Unable to resist my curiosity, I asked him why he was doing that and he said his boss had asked him to do so because MP coming!

Another friend, who is a helper to an MP, told me what goes on at those dialogue sessions whenever Ministers comes around. He said the helpers will enlist a few people to ask questions. These questions have to be submitted before hand for screening. And during the questions and answers time, the helpers will only pick these people so that there will be no "surprise" questions for the Minister.

Last but not least, another friend once worked part time in a organisation under the PA. His job was to monitor the movement of all the Ministers attending grassroots functions and mobilise sufficient "participants". This is to ensure that whatever the Ministers appear, there will always be a big crowd to welcome him.

So my point is, with all these old farts hiding the truth and our main stream media not daring to write the truth, how does the PAP know the actual feeling on the grounds? With these type of "generals" helping them to fight the war, I certainly have no doubt the PAP will lose more seats come the next election. With "friends" like these, the PAP certainly don't need any enemies!

So for the next GE, if the PAP wants to stem the loss, they first thing they need to do is to get rid of these old farts or 拍马屁 and turn to the younger more internet savy people for help.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Margaret Drive Western Food

Having grown up in the Margaret Drive area, there is this sense of loss now that the most well known icon of the area is gone. I am referring to the hawker centre.

Most of the more well known stalls have relocated like Hai Kee Char Kway Teow to Telok Blangah, the popiah to Jurong and the western food to Maxwell. I didn't realise that the latter has moved to Maxwell until i saw the makan places lost and found!

So I roped in a colleague and instead of our usual Teochew porridge, we ordered a chicken chop and a pork chop.

I don't remember how it tasted like previously. Fact is I have not eaten at this stall for more than 10 years so I can't say whether the standard has gone up or gone down.

Certainly the portion is fairly big for $6.00 per plate. It comes with 2 pieces of meat, a generous side of French Fries, baked bean and a bread. The meat is rather well marinated but unfortunately the sauce was a bit weak. To make it worse, the tomato sauce and the meat sauce got all mixed up resulting in a funny sweet and tangy favour. They even dump the butter on the plate and the tomato sauce got all  over it making it really yucky to open. But overall, this is the way this type of western food is served in most hawker stall so I can't really complain.

And seriously for between $6.00 to $6.50 per dish without GST, this is really value for money.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wither COE?

So the gahmen got its desired effect after the dramatic measures for cars. COE is generally down from the incredible high where a stupid piece of paper cost more than the selling price of a car in most part of the world. 

But this doesn't seem to please anybody. Nobody I spoke to is happy with the new measures especially the cap on the financing. Not car buyers since now they got to fork out more cash, not car sellers since there is now a smaller pool of customers to sell to and not the financial institutions since they cannot do more financing. And I guess, even the credit companies who are not bound by the MAS imposed cap, are complaining. The sudden surge in interest will drain their resources and draw the attention of the authorities on their largely un-supervised operations. 

For us in the industry, we were expecting some sort of measures to be taken after COE continues to rise. With the many "feedbacks" from the public, it was only a matter of time before the gahmen bowed to the pressure and do "something". Most of us guesstimate was a restoration of the financing curb to 70%/7 years financing. But what none of us expect was the deep cut to 60/50 and across the board for new and used cars. We had of course not expect any major change to the COE bidding process itself. That is after all, a cash cow worth over S$2 billion a year and therefore untouchable.

But then again, with so many silly and impractical suggestions for the COE, it is any wonder the gahmen is not going to do anything about it. Those people who write in to the press to offer their suggestions. I think they think through their arsehole. Imagine a suggestion to limit car to 1 per household! How practical is that? And what about allocating COE base on needs? Who is going to play God and decide who has the greater need? Me think these people are only thinking of themselves when they put pen to paper. They never thought how absurd or impractical their suggestions were. Of course there are some sensible suggestions but these are not going to make any impact to the COE so what's the point? Like reclassifying the categories. Where there money to be made, motor dealers will still be smart enough to beat whatever system the gahmen can throw at them.

In my opinion, there is only one way to curb the ever increasing cost of the COE and that is to take the car dealer out of the equation. Right now, the way I see it, it is not the amount of financing or any other reasons that cause COE to go up to this level. It is because the dealers are the one bidding for the COE. And the dealers with the biggest margin can bid highest hence we see the continental cars people doing so well. What the dealer do is to package in the COE into the selling price. Then they go and bid for the COE. Once successful, the buyer pays for the whole package through a financing. To clinch the sale, the dealer will bid high knowing that they need to only pay for the lowest successful bid.

Now take the dealer out of the equation and make the buyer bid for the COE himself. Which car buyer in his sane mind will bid high for a COE? And if it is not package into the car price, there will be no financing so that will curb the impulse of the buyer to bid too high as he has to cough up the cash for the COE. To make it work even better, the successful bidder will have to pay based on his/her bid amount. That will reduce the temptation for buyer to anyhow bid hopping to pay the lowest successful bid. With the COE in hand, then the buyer can approach the car dealer to buy his car. Car dealer will no longer be able to profit from the manipulation of the COE and will have to sell the car at a transparent price of OMV+taxes+profit margin.

This I think is the only way to really get the COE to come down but I don't think it gonna happen any time soon. The gahmen is ain't never going to lose that S$2 billion cash cow!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Concrete Jungle

This is the scene I see every morning on my way to work.

If there was grass and plants in the drain,it could be like a picture out of the Africa plains. But unfortunately, it is just a big concrete drain yet somehow the egrets and some herons fly in every morning to look for breakfast.

Actually, the egrets and herons are roosting in the Pasir Ris Mangrove swamp just 1 km down the road. 

Thanks to the effort of the Nparks, wildlife is flourishing in our concrete jungle.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

115 Dessert

Singapore is like dessert paradise. We have Malay dessert, local dessert, Hongkong dessert, Taiwan dessert and of course Western dessert. But my favourite is still our local dessert and my all time fave outlet is 115 Dessert at the Chinatown Food Centre at Smith Street.

The dessert here are still made the traditional way. There is an old fashion mill which they use to grind the beans. The dessert they sell are all the traditional type like green bean, almond paste, black sesame paste, corn paste, barley ginkgo  red bean etc. No fancy ice kachang, no snow flakes or modern type of soup. A bowl cost only $1.30 and delivery is available for a fee. 
This stall is probably the best there is around town. Better than Zhen Jie or ErGu or those Hong Kong Dessert place. Maybe Chew's Dessert at Liang Seah comes close but that cost much much more per bowl.

Give this stall a try when you are in the area. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Saga of the Dustbin

There is this dustbin along the pavement just next door to my office building. It is between me and my route to the MRT station.

Everyday hordes of office workers gather around the bin to smoke. Some will lean against the wall of the building and some will stand in the middle of the pavement. Whatever it is, I have to walk through a tunnel of smoke almost daily to get to/from the office. 

A colleague fed up with the situation, repeatedly called the NEA only to be told by them that their enforcement officers found no offence of illegal smoking and could not do anything! So it was a lost cause for us until the new anti-smoking measures kicked in on 15 January this year.

The following day after that, I emailed the NEA to "feedback" about the situation. And I got this reply.

"2 We had conducted checks at both locations but no one was seen smoking within the prohibited smoking area. However during our enforcement checks, smokers at the non-prohibited areas were advised to be considerate and mindful of non-smoking commuters and patrons. We had also requested the stakeholder at 156 Cecil Street to move the bin further away from the building.

4. With the extension of the smoking ban on 15 January 2013, public areas such as covered walkways have been designated as non smoking zone. We are engaging the building management on the smoking ban and we will take the opportunity to remind them to ensure that no one smoke at the prohibited areas of the building. We will also continue to conduct enforcement checks at the site."

Very efficient. I thought. Imagine my delight when 2 days later, the dustbin was removed! But the joy was misplaced! The smokers continued to smoke there. No dustbin? No problem. Just drop the cigarette butts on the ground.
This just show how not only are smokers reckless with their own and other health, they are socially irresponsible. But then again I don't blame them. After all, they have to be quite a bit wrong up there to ingest all those nicotine and tar into their body,

Anyway I shot off another email to NEA and they promised to send someone around to book the litterbugs.

"Thank you for the email.

We will deploy our enforcement officers to carry out checks and book anyone found littering the public areas".

But guess what? The freaking dustbin is back! Yes I figured NEA think it is easier to let the smokers puff away then to either enforce the no-smoking rule or nab the litter bugs!