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I learnt a few things in the past week from random observation:

1. Singaporean do not understand freedom of speech.

In the typical Singaporean mind, freedom of speech is freedom to worship but not to criticise what I worship. #weird

2. I pity these three men:

Lim Kim San, Goh Keng Swee and Albert Winsemius. #sad

3. Singaporean sure put in a lot of effort.

But I don’t see them doing it for their loved one. #hypocrisy

4. Whitewash is ok if it doesn’t affect your loved ones.

“If that guy’s bad deed doesn’t affect me or my loved ones, it is ok.” We’re all “Winston” from 1984. #immoral

I think the past week brought out the worst in all of us.

As much as I think the trinity of issue been overblown, I still think both side still need to bear blame for it to a certain extent. I don’t think HDB is as spotless and as upfront as it claims to be and likewise, I don’t think the owners are valid when they say they are hoodwinked into this whole issue (seriously?!).

Disclaimer: Before any self-righteous Singapore come and start to say I eat more salt than you eat rice and so therefore my views trumps your view, I stay directly behind a chinese temple for 22 years. You may have more years staying near a temple, but I am still qualified to say what I want. (TL:DR, up your a**)

Before we start the whole thing, let me share how is it like to spend 22 years behind a chinese temple. The chinese temple infront of me is actually a combination of 13 other temples. So, I can say, I pretty much will have a busy temple to contend with.

I pretty much have on average 1 歌台(getai) every other month excluding the 7th month of the lunar calendar when the 歌台 hit pass the roof. Beside, I will without a doubt have religious events every Saturday or Sunday with all the gongs and music.

And surprise, do you know the temple behind me also house an ancestor tablet hall? For the non-Chinese, ancestor tablet hall is also same as columbarium less the urns. We face the same incense, paper money and excess traffic as a columbarium.

A few things which future owner of houses nearby can start to take note and get used to. This is very useful because it has been battle proven for 22 years.

  1. Your house is going to get dusty. Real fucking dusty. You think that sparkling crystal vase is going to be the centrepiece of your living room? Think again. It will attract so much dust that you will keep it in your storeroom or sell on carousell after a few years. The dust is actually ashes from the burnt paper money and incense.
  2. It will be noisy. Oh, trust me, if you think the minah singing at the malay wedding is bad, think how a 歌台 screaming till 2230hrs going to sound like. And btw, 歌台 can legally scream till 2230hrs. Good luck if you’re feeling unwell and need an early rest.
  3. With 歌台 comes the banquet, the organisers will be washing plates and clearing food within the temple. If you didn’t know, rats and scrap food are inseparable partners.

But not all is bad.bFor all naysayer about how it will bring down resale value.

Recently like 2 months ago, one of the units in my block was sold for $680,000 for a 5 room flat. You come and tell me where else outside core area can command this kind of price?

Now come to the main part which I think both party deserved each other. The tenants (yea, I am referring to you “owners”) and HDB both really deserve each other.

Dear tenants aka owner(s),
Those who complain about:

My resale value is going to go down… Re-read what I have posted above regarding resale prices and seriously, if you only have one property, you shouldn’t be speculating and hedging your retirement on your house equity. Plus, HDB house is meant for you to have a roof over your head so you can fuck and have kids for the state.

But this thinking of yours is also not entirely your fault. I’ll explain when I come to the govt part later.

For those who complained that it will generate a lot of traffic, dust, negative energy, extra other world neighbours etc etc…

This one I got to side HDB. They clearly listed there that there will be a temple and yet you still ballot for it. Its like I tell you the river got crocodiles and you still go swim and kenna bitten by crocodiles and you come and blame me. Absurd right? You should do your due diligence when you’re going to commit potentially 30 years of your life to it. I mean fucking do your due diligence. I am at that age where friends are getting BTO and rarely do I see people going to the actual ground to walk and see. They just rely on the site map and whether got good school nearby. Tell me, how many go BTO got see the URA master plan? Now to HDB/URA/the other side…

Dear HDB/URA/the other side,
I pity you and I also see you no up. Pity you because you have to deal with unreasonable owners who do not do their due diligence and yet still blaming you. At the same time, I see you no up when you bungled this whole thing up.

Firstly, you while i think is not wrong to put the ancillary purpose in the brochure, maybe it’s not that ethical like what other residents pointed out, the word ancillary is a very vague term. Good for you because you have more leeway, trust me, I also encounter this trick during when when I interact with govt bodies. For some reason, people I deal with in the public sector like to use such vague terms so they can weasel their way out in the future if the situation turn against them.

I at the same time pity you because HDB is stuck between a rock and a hard place. All thanks to GCT and his asset enhancement bullshit. The myth where housing price can only get higher and higher. And using your house as a retirement fund. Once the tenants have this mentality, NIMBY start to rear its fucking ugly head. It is human nature after all.

However, I do not understand how URA/HDB/whoever else can allot a private company to compete in the same pool as charity/religious org. It does’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who have a deeper pocket and what the outcome will be. This is called shooting yourself in your foot.

I think HDB/URA would reduce the fallout if the winner of the bid is a charity/religious organisation. Like reduce a lot. The fact that it is a private company developing the cheese temple just show the temple is for show, and the money making stuff is in the columrbarium. Because, if it is otherwise, I believe the shareholder is going to beat some sense into the management of Eternal Pure.

You don’t believe me? Go to Jurong West and see CHC. Go ask CHC neighbours, they are all ok despite the heavy crowds on worship days, because CHC is a religious/not-for-profit. (Disclaimer: Doesn’t mean I support what Kong Hee does. That one he answer to his own God.)

Lastly, best for the last.

Dear MP,

I think you really have no idea. Maybe before you enter the discussion, you already envisioned the resident to be unreasonable.

I said this because, look at where you sit and look at how you talk. You sit with the developer, URA and HDB facing the residents. Shouldn’t you sit with the residents, take command and direct the question to the relevant parties? After all, you are their elected representative. You lost your initiative when you just sit down there fending the residents question. If I were to view the videos on youtube, it would seem like you are HDB/URA/Eternal Pure spokesperson and the lady asking the question to be the MP.

You just show you cannot mobilise a few blocks of residents and letting others seize the initiative. Come the next election, you still dare to ask for people in Sengkang to trust you? I don’t know man, Singaporeans are BDSM people. they like getting f**ked by govt, maybe they will vote you back for more reaming.

I think you maybe have no idea how to be a MP. Maybe you calculated and you felt you could lose fernvale support and yet win the next election. Maybe you know your SMC is going to be diced up and absorbed into the neighbouring GRCs. Or maybe you just can’t be bothered. After all, I am pretty sure, I wouldn’t find you staying anywhere near fernvale or that columbarium for that matter.

But I also pity you. It’s hard dealing with all these unreasonable Singaporeans.

But just like no point crying over spilled milk right? HDB and URA said they will ensure the temple will be well integrated with Fernvale. Just like how the 2 integrated resort will be well integrated with Singapore economy…

Which begs the question, why bother conjuring out a meeting with the residents at all in the first place?

Do you know that while Singapore hosted the Brazil-Japan friendly at the spanking new national stadium, our national team is also playing a friendly with Macau on the same day and around the same time?

This is what I mean SMLJ national pride. No one bother about the national team. No media less FAS fb bother about them. The rest are all hyped up about the Brazil-Japan friendly, how much of a sold out crowd it was, another crowning achievement to the new national stadium never mind the sandy pitch.

Ironic much that we call it our national stadium when all event and concert so far have been overseas acts and events.

Btw, Singapore and Macau drew 2-2.

#irony

A doctor accused of overcharging the Bruneian royalty is accusing the lawyers engaged by Singapore Medical Council of overcharging.

#potcallingthekettleblack

Turns out that the lawyers were indeed overcharging the poor doctor. Haha. Poetic justice. I guess it’s a taste of her own medicine for the doctor.

COURT RULES THAT LAWYER, PAP MP ALVIN YEO OVERCHARGED $1 MILLION IN LEGAL FEES

Susan Lim case: Court slashes SMC’s cost claims

From the Singapore Law Watch article:

Ring binders for which SMC had priced at $6 per unit for Dr Lim to pay

No wonder these few days my admin assistant so stingy with ring binders. I must go fight war with her to claim the precious ring binder. #myprecious #fellowshipoftheringbinder #oneringbindertorulethemall

Turn out that one of the lawyers found to be overcharging is a member of parliament. I didn’t know the cost of living is so high that the MP, despite having a monthly allowance of $15,000 have to overcharge the poor doctor to bring home more dough.

I think we need to increase MP allowance so to make my MP life easier. They already have a hard life seeing our faces every week during the meet the people session.

#poorthing #hardlife #moneynoenough

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There was a train breakdown from Marina Bay to Newton last night of around 1+ hour.

This is the reason why Singaporeans, we truly deserve the kind of government we have in power.

Mediocrity.

We are so used to failures and failing that we have accepted it as part of our life. We have learnt to accept “It could be worse” as a perfectly legitimate excuse. What tops the cake? We have internalise this excuse that it become our collective psyche, “Be grateful! other country is worse than us”

We accept mediocre excuses and result from our government without batting an eyelid.

Being mediocre is what we do best. And who else can still say Singaporean have no fucking talent?

To add on to the mediocrity we have so willingly accepted. This year, we have 2 breach in the woodlands checkpoint, one of it even can tour the island for 3 days before driving into MFA[Link].

And remember the case where some foreigner just sailed into Raffles Marina in a catamaran to try to abduct a kid back to the UK?

Did anybody apologize for the lapse? No. The excuse given is

This case should have been prevented and dealt with more urgently and decisively. I have expressed my dissatisfaction to the Commissioner of ICA and Commissioner of Police over the breach at the Woodlands Checkpoint and the subsequent response actions

Like what one of my friend always say:谁都可以错,就是我不可以错。

How apt.

We are truly a nation of sheep and plebeians.

Atlantic Council honours Lee Kuan Yew with Global Citizen Award

I say we are a nation of sheep, just look at Facebook, you instantly see people beating their chest and congratulating how Singapore have yet again punch above our weight. Etc etc etc, yada yada yada. Like long live Sith Lord old man LKY! Seriously…

Foreign Government Contributions to Nine Think Tanks

Do you know the government contributed an unspecified sum of money to the Atlantic Council?

Do you know that the government once said this about a news portal here:

The media watchdog said the government “has received specific information which gives it cause for concern over foreign interest to fund The Independent”, without elaborating further what that was.

Coming from some government who is funding other country’s think tank. Pretty hypocritical.

So I say, when LKY is given the award. Take it with a pinch of salt ok? But don’t take too much. Blood pressure is a killer

P.s. Not insinuating that the award was brought. But rather to ask reader to think deeper on why is the award given. Maybe he really deserved it. Smirk.

Didn’t exactly thought the last few post on CPF would generate a little comments section on it. I actually was talking to one of my colleague during lunch and we drifted to the topic of CPF and how much interest it generated.

Reading the comments left on the previous post left me with some thoughts… You see, before I start on my beef with CPF… I am going to tell you something, and that is, we as a society is seriously seriously screwed. I mean it. You just have to look, just take the example of the comments left by “Tan”:

Because many will squander their payout and as a result, the number of individuals who are unable to support themselves upon retirement will increase. Therefore, the cost to the society as a whole will increase (in the form of higher taxes). We have seen this scenario played out in many other countries. Singapore is prudent in this regard. – Tan

You see, this is what I mean we are utterly screwed, congrats fellow Singaporeans, we are just so heartless as a society. You see, just because we are guarding against “imaginary” event that people will squander our payout, we decided to just withhold everyone’s money. The reason why I quote-unquote imaginary is because to date, the basis we use this excuse for the State to hold back our CPF money in the name of so we won’t squander it is just anecdotal.

Before this whole changing of rules in CPF, is there any hard evidence that of the proportion of retiree taking their money out at 55, a huge chunk of them squander it away? We have seen stories of people who have money in their CPF but they are not able to use it because either they have hit the limit or not at the age to withdraw. They are just like stranded sailors in the open sea. So much water but none to drink.

For someone who needs the cash urgently, so what if his/her CPF has a balance of $100,000? It sure make him or her feel rich like how a certain minister without portfolio said before. Btw, till this date, I still haven’t exactly figured out what does a minister without portfolio do? Anyway, it sure makes the person feel rich looking at the balance in the CPF, but what is the point if you can’t use it now?

And this is why I say we are so heartless… In our bid to prevent all these potential squandering, we decided that the needy, those in need of their money in CPF goes up as the collateral damage.

Ok, anyhow, for readers like “Tan” and “Low” (have not a single idea who they are, but never mind….) who think that some Singaporeans are ungrateful for such a wonderful pension fund called CPF which other countries doesn’t have, I will write down here what is my issue with CPF.

Trust

When CPF was first instituted, the social compact was on the premise that the people saved, and upon the age of 55, you get to take back all your savings. Look what happened now. The social compact have been broken so utterly that it doesn’t hold much weight with people anymore. You see, the issue is trust. people see CPF as a saving, or in simplistic terms, a piggy bank for their future retirement. But as the years goes by, slowly by slowly, the government unilaterally on the basis that life expectancy is increasing and the threat of squandering money decided to institute rules and increasing the draw down age. Each of this moves erode the trust people place in CPF.

We have strayed so far from the aim of CPF which is “Saving for retirement” today that you just have to ask young working adult what do they think about CPF and if they can retire on their CPF saving and be surprised at what they will tell you what they think about CPF. If I were to paraphrase some nugget of thoughts from my friends about CPF, this will be what this is:

We can forget about our CPF savings. At the rate which the government arbitrarily increase the minimum sum and the rate they push back the draw down age, I don’t want to think what is the MS required and the draw down age in 30 years time when I “retire”.

 

For all you know, if they every year suka-suka increase 4%, by the time I am of “retirement” age, the MS would be a whopping half a million and if they suka suka increase the draw down age, now the age is 62. Who knows maybe 30 years later it will be 72?!? – Anon

You see, the young people do not trust the CPF system because what we are seeing is a shifting of goal post to suit the government’s needs. Not my retirement needs. These trust erosion doesn’t happened overnight. It is the accumulation of these changes which dishearten everyone.

People can boast that CPF is the rare pension fund in the world which is so healthy and flush with cash, but the fact is other country’s pension fund understand that if they were to take such a route Singapore have taken with regards to their pension fund, they would lose the trust of the people.

We have build up the “healthy” cash level of our CPF and I am not proud of the process achieving it..

Lack of communication

Another beef I have is the lack of communication, the “we-know-best” attitude and the sue you till your pants drop approach. The manpower minister bemoan about the noise generated when people complain about the minimum sum hike even though years ago the government have announced the plan to increase it.

The problem is not about the increase. The problem is the lack of communication. The average inflation from 2003-2014 is 2.5% and do you know what is the average increase for the minimum sum? 6.2%

You see, this is the problem. Firstly, it seems like the MS hike has no pattern. This was written in CPF website:

The MS was set at $80,000 in 2003 and will be raised gradually until it reaches $120,000 (in 2003 dollars) in 2015. These amounts will be adjusted yearly for inflation.

But the fact is, it seems wildly adjusted for inflation. I mean if you tell me that the adjustment would be annual inflation rate + a fixed percentage, I would truly believed you that if is adjusted for inflation because there is a fixed target. but the fact is, the difference between the inflation rate and the MS adjustment can range from 0.9% to 5.1%.

Do you now began to see, which such wild range of numbers, how do you expect people not to be unhappy? I would think they are rational to be unhappy.

People of today is no longer the people of yesterday. People of today are more inquisitive, we ask more questions, we dig more and we do not readily accept the dogma of yesterday. Well, except for Justin Bieber lah… haha!

The fact that Singaporeans, especially older Singaporeans seems to have this notion that if the system works for them, it must also likewise work for the younger generations. But the truth is far from it. There is no need for any flashy example but just this. Ask yourself, 20 years ago as a young working adult, when you get your flat, it is expected of you to finish paying off the house in 10-15 years. Today, in 2014, you are looking at 30 years before they forced it to 25 years. Ask yourself, if the system still works, why does the loan tenure have to increase?

For this, we need not blame anyone but yourself for falling for the asset enhancement trap. When you clamour for asset enhancement, appreciating the price of your house, you are effectively getting your kids to subsidised your retirement. And you all are wondering why your kids are so unhappy?

Anyway, on a side note, did anyone notice the number of empty chair that is in Parliament when they show it on TV?

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