Sunday, December 31, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Can we get a refund if we are dissatisfied with bus service? Does LTA regularly check air quality in public buses?
Today Wednesday • December 27, 2006
Letter from Tham Wai Keen
Letter from Carmen Teoh-Tang
Going home on Friday, I took Bus Service No 855.
I was on the bus for only two minutes when I noticed that the air conditioning seemed to have failed. It was stuffy inside the vehicle, and I was beginning to feel a little nauseous. I started to perspire and, worse, had some difficulty breathing.
The ride was not very smooth either as there seemed to be a problem with the brakes — the bus jerked when stopping or starting off. When I finally stood up to alight, I noticed cockroaches crawling around the window next to where I was seated.
This makes me wonder, if a commuter gets on a bus, and is not pleased with the service he/she is getting, can he/she leave the bus immediately and get a full refund?
Are the bus captains empowered to give a refund on the spot?
That day, I was uncomfortable enough to want to alight before my stop and wait for another bus, but was not tired enough to part with the 63 cents extra I would have had to pay to reach my destination.
If I had alighted immediately, would I have been compensated?
I was travelling on a crowded public bus to work. A fellow passenger appeared to have some sort of skin disease and he was peeling the flaky skin off his feet, legs, hands and face. He would casually brush off the flaky skin, causing them to fall on the bus floor. As much as I pitied the passenger for his condition, it was a nauseous sight to behold. He was also coughing continuously.
Many times, I have come across fellow commuters who cough and sneeze. Whenever I came down with the flu and took the bus, I prayed that I would not pass on the germs to other people. The air quality inside the bus is even worse when the air-conditioning is not working and the vehicle is crowded.
I wonder if the Land Transport Authority regularly examines the air quality in our public buses.
Is there an air purifier installed in our buses? Are the buses cleaned with anti-bacterial agents everyday? Sometimes I also notice thick layers of dust in the corners of window frames and underneath the seats.
How often does the LTA conduct checks on the cleanliness of our public transport?
This is so true.
With the repeated fare increase I don’t see the service level of our public transport being raised concurrently.
Only last week I had two terrible experiences with SBS Transit.
I boarded Service No.80 at Bugis Junction on Sunday and the bus is really in poor condition. It is dirty, with graffiti on several seats and the window’s seals are all torn.
On the same day I boarded Service No. 82 at Hougang, it was a rainy evening. The bus condition was not fantastic as well. Not only was it dirty, it was leaking too.
Many time our public transport operator boasts about better buses and trains and the spend XX dollars improving their stations and fleets. But these are all passed down to the consumers with countless fare increments.
When we pay for something, we expect a certain level of service satisfaction. If the public transport operator failed to deliver this basic service, then the consumer have all the rights to demand a refund.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ban cleaning of windows, urges MP Employers must do more to protect maids, says Halimah
Monday • December 18, 2006
Chow Penn Nee
TO prevent the tragic accidents of maids falling to their deaths while cleaning windows, this activity should be banned altogether, said an MP.
This could be done through an explicit clause in a maid's work permit, said Madam Halimah Yacob, MP for Jurong GRC.
Noting that much has been done to improve the situation of foreign workers in the past few years, she felt that employers can "do more" to protect their maids from dangers.
"I am perturbed that we continue to have reports of foreign domestic workers falling to their deaths while cleaning windows," she said, "Perhaps the Manpower Ministry should consider banning foreign domestic workers from cleaning windows in high-rise buildings in order to protect them, if there is no other way of stopping these unnecessary deaths," she said, in a speech at the International Migrants' Day celebration yesterday.
There were eight accidental falls relating to maids last year. Some 99 maids fell to their deaths from high-rise buildings between 1999 and June 2003.
Earlier this year, an employer was jailed for two weeks for making her maid hang laundry on the ledge, resulting in the maid falling to her death.
Under the law, employers can also be barred from hiring a maid in cases where they put their maids' lives in danger.
Madam Halimah, the assistant secretary general of NTUC, also called for "tighter control and regulation" in the sending countries against errant agencies.
"Exploitative foreign employment agencies that suck the workers dry and make them highly indebted even before they come to Singapore and those who promise their workers jobs which do not exist or bring them in illegally, are but some of the problems."
All 880,000 foreign workers in Singapore will also be affected by the removal of health subsidies in October next year, to be possibly replaced by medical insurance schemes which companies have to purchase.
The Manpower Ministry is discussing the costs and areas of coverage with insurance companies, and estimates put the monthly premium at about $10 to $20 per worker.
However, many of the foreign workers whom Today spoke to during yesterday's event seemed unaware of the impending changes.
Those who knew were worried that they would be short-changed.
Indian national Rasu Aruldaj, is a case in point. He was injured thrice at his workplace, a stone foundry, but was not allowed by his boss to go to a hospital as he deemed it not serious enough.
"I went to a polyclinic and my employer paid, but he later deducted it from my pay," the 31-year-old told Today through a translator.
Volunteers like Jolovan Wham, a social worker with Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), said he is concerned about how comprehensive the insurance might be.
That is why non-government organisations (NGOs) like his wants to be included in discussions on compulsory health-care insurance for foreign workers.
"We want to have a dialogue with the government on the terms of the medical insurance," said Ms Braema Mathi, president of advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). "This might include whether it will cover diseases like malaria and chicken pox which foreign workers might contract on the work site," she said.
Yet another wonderful “Scholar” approach to the problem.
I have better suggestion then Halimah call for ban on cleaning window.
Banned maids all together! Not only you eliminate maid falling to death, you also eliminate employees having affair with maids. You also eliminate maids being torture by employee. See 3 birds are killed with one stone.
It is rather sad that Singapore, being a 1st world country that we love to boast about is treating foreign workers so badly.
You can sometime see the whole family wolfing down crabs and seafood while the maid just sat there with a bowl of rice. I have also seen maids carrying a baby plus 3-4 bags while the employee walk in-front empty handed.
Yes they are maids or foreign workers, but they are also a human being. Perhaps the Ministry of Education should re-look the important of the subject call social studies.
Once end we treat these workers like dirt and at the other ends we are sucking up to the so called Foreign talents.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Shopping goes on despite Tangs fireMonday • December 18, 2006
Tan Hui Leng
CHRISTMAS shoppers along Orchard Road were abuzz with excitement yesterday evening when a small fire hit part of Tangs Department Store's Chinese roof structure.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said that they received a call at 7.45pm and arrived at the building at 7.51pm.
Two fire engines put out the fire in eight minutes. There were no injuries.
Although an announcement was made about the fire, no official evacuation of shoppers was carried out.
"Although the store was on standby to evacuate shoppers, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force advised that there was no need to do so as the fire was under control very quickly," said a Tangs spokesperson. "We would have evacuated the store immediately if told to."
Even so, shoppers streamed out of the store in an orderly fashion, according to MediaCorp News Hotline caller Lou Tian Hong, who was across the road at the time."There was no panic," said the civil servant, who was part of a crowd who gathered to watch the smoky scene outside Orchard MRT station.
"When the fire was doused, in quick fashion, everyone clapped."Indeed, it was business as usual last night after the fire when Today visited the store. Although the front of the building was cordoned off, shoppers continued their holiday spending within.
"I came in from the side entrance facing Scotts Road and didn't notice the cordon at all," said 42-year-old housewife Iris Tay. "I wouldn't even have known about the fire if I hadn't been told about it."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but the Tangs spokesperson said it was unlikely to have been caused by the store's Christmas decorations, as the lights continued to work during the fire.
No wonder shopping is the nation number one pass time!
But I question why Tangs did not evacuate the buliding between 7.45pm and 7.51pm. ( I am doubtful of the timing too! 6 min to get from the nearest station to orchard?)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Dec 14, 2006
'Hua Yu cool'? No, boorish Mandarin-speaking youths spoil the image
I can attest that Mr Peter Donkin's observations of young Singaporeans are true.
I have many negative opinions of young Singaporeans too, despite being a youth myself.
My observations of inconsiderate behaviour among young Singaporeans almost always involve the Mandarin-speakers.
While not implying that all Mandarin-speaking youths are rotten (nor are all English-speaking youth angels), an overwhelmingly large group of offenders are observed to be from this group.
This seems to stem from the Chinese school of thought which advocates 'If I don't take, I lose out' and 'If others can do it, so can I, otherwise I lose out', among other factors.
Before anyone takes offence at my discrimination, go on a MRT ride across the island first, and my theory will come to life.
On a train ride from Jurong East to City Hall last month, I saw three groups of Mandarin-speaking youths huddled with their handphones playing Chinese songs at full blast.
The three groups were in the same cabin. It was terrible. One couple left the cabin for another because they couldn't take the racket.
Many people glared at the youths. A girl from one of the groups declared in Mandarin and English 'Wa, wo men hen attract attention leh!', which translates to 'Wow, we are attracting a lot of attention!'.
Was she thinking that people saw her group as 'cool' just because her handphone played MP3 music and they were the latest Mandopop hits? I was outraged at the inconsiderate behavior.
The Mandarin-speaking Singaporean youths also seem to ignore rules that make the world an orderly place. For example, they ignore repeated reminders to keep to the left on escalators. They also ignore the markings that serve to allow passengers on trains to alight first.
A Malaysian classmate who recently visited Thailand spoke of how gracious the people there were, and their good etiquette on the train.
Step into a shop and you will notice that the Mandarin-speakers are rude to service staff and they never say 'please' or 'thank you'.
Based on their interactions with my peers, they take offence easily,
yet they have no qualms about being sarcastic and rude to foreign teachers.
Many young litterbugs are also Mandarin-speaking youths.
When I visited Melbourne some months back, I was greatly impressed at the clean streets. I saw everyone putting their litter into bins, and there were no cleaners around.
While many Mandarin-speaking youths are nice on a personal level, their mentality can manifest the antisocial behaviour that I have mentioned.
My friends and I belong to the minority English-speaking group and we are ashamed to speak in Mandarin in public. No, we are not elites, just normal teenagers.
Unless the association of bad behaviour with Mandarin-speaking youths can be negated, 'Hua Yu Cool' isn't going to work on us anytime soon.
Gosh another clown!
Personally I am quite surprised that The Straits Time published this letter. I wonder if the letter will be published if the writer is commenting on English speaking youths or other races.
Ang Lixing’s view of society is so so stereotypical.
There are ALWAYS rude, inconsiderate idiots from ALL race, religion, education background and nationalities.
Lixing, you just proved to Singapore that you are one of them.
Also Lixing commented how clean and beautiful Melbourne is. So does this mean English speaking countries is better off then Mandarin speaking countries?
I was in Melbourne before too and there are streets that are clean and there are streets that are dirty. Perhaps Lixing was walking behind a street cleaner while she was in Melbourne.
With China's expected dominance in the next decade and with the European countries' economies slowing down, it would be ironic that Lixing finds it a shame to speak Mandarin and choose instead to speak in English. Doesnt she keep herself updated on what is happening to the world now? You may just end up working for a chinese boss when you start working and that will be the real irony.
If she think she belong to the minority youth who speaks English and is embarassed by the so-called chinese speaking youths, then by all means migrate overseas. I am sure her departure will not be a loss to the nation.
And may I add that I do come across irritating English speaking youths who added an american accent in their conversation which is so fake and I swore they had their education in Singapore. Who is she to comment that Chinese speaking youths are boorish, rude and all the negative comments. I do seriously think that Lixing needs to see a counseller over her obsure opinions.
I am expecting a public outrage on this matter…. Time to sit back and enjoy another WSM saga unfolding… hehe…
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
'Back to School with Dad' hopes to build bonds between father and child
12 December 2006
Sending a child to school may be a simple act but it can go a long way in bonding a parent and a child.
That is the hope of the Centre for Fathering as it embarks on a campaign to get dads to do just that when it is time to head back to school in January.
15-year-old Matthew Han is old enough to go to school on his own but his father, Paul, would rather accompany his son.
The boy himself wouldn't have it any other way. "Because he's like my alternative to coming to school later. So I won't need to wake up so early to catch the bus!"
For Paul, it is more than just giving his son more sleep time and a ride. This simple act has been a tradition with the Han family from the days when Paul was brought to school by his own parents.
"It is quality and valuable time for me. It's about 20 minutes. He has a chance to ask me, (tells me) what he likes, what his problem is. I'm not always home because I'm travelling quite substantially. So I have a good chance to talk to him."
"When we are in the car, we talk about his work, what he's doing currently, when he'll be off, when he'll be flying off, when he'll return and all his future plans to go overseas and come back since he goes overseas quite often," Matthew says.
It is this sort of bonding that the Centre for Fathering hopes other families will be able to do as well.
Seah Kian Peng, Board Member of the Centre for Fathering, says: "I think the current lifestyles are very different. All of us face a lot of demands on our time at work, and at the same time, the statistics show that indeed there are a lot of stresses a lot of families are going through."
The centre says with the conventional view of fathers as breadwinners, mothers tend to take on the parenting role. But it wants to elevate the role of fathers as it feels parenting is a shared responsibility.
"Even if it's five minutes, you have five full minutes with your child, just the two of you. Those five minutes is in the absence of TV - no distractions. You're not competing against TV, the video game, some other people in the household but it is you and your child.
I think those precious moments are to me, quality time. "Make use of the time you have with them. When they are in their teens, it's hard to recapture those moments. Honestly, it's hard to get their attention for half-an-hour one-on-one. It's very simple - the opportunity is there every day of the week," Mr Seah says.
The centre has roped in more than 30 companies to give employees time off to send their children to school. And with the response it has had so far, several thousand fathers could very well be doing that come January.
I applauded the Center of Fathering effort to elevate the role of fatherhood but this seem to be not a very logical method to start with.
Encouraging fathers to drive their kids to school?
Yes fathers and child can indeed spend quality time with in the cars but how many fathers really own a car?
Base on statistic.
In 2005, 71,042 of 778, 568 student travel to schools in cars and throwing in the 19,151 which classified as others to give a benefit of doubt to the figure.
This will bring the figure to 90,193 which is only 11.58% of the student population.
I believe the Center is heading toward the right direction but is getting it all wrong or do they wan to see some result fast and make a publicized it as quickly as possible to gain some airtime.
I feel that Singapore’s working environment is not a pro family as all.
The Center should push the government to impose flexible working hours, paternal leaves etc etc. to improve fatherhood bonding. There are so many thing they can do and I admit it is difficult but I guess this will benefit the other 88.42% of the students.
Or maybe we are looking at the Elites only?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Monday • December 11, 2006
Letter from Chan Hoi SanHead, Human ResourceStarHub
I refer to the article, "YouTube, you leave" (Dec 8), which stated: "StarHub fires temp staff member for 'misconduct' in office".
It was clearly stated in our email response to Today on Dec 7 that Mr Terence Tan was a temporary staff member engaged by an appointed manpower agency and assigned to StarHub to promote and sell StarHub products and services to corporate individual sales customers.
He was never an employee of StarHub.
However, there was no mention of the manpower agency in the article, and your readers will inevitably deduce that Terence was an employee of StarHub and that he was dismissed by the company which was not true.
Terence was filmed wearing StarHub's uniform horsing around with another temporary staff member on what was clearly our office premises.
This clip was made available for public viewing without the prior knowledge or consent of StarHub.
We take this seriously as this is not an accurate reflection of our employees at work and it is certainly not the professional image we project.
Our employees take pride in being part of the StarHub family and we are proud of our corporate branding and identity. We are a young and energetic team who are deeply passionate about the role that each of us plays in the company.
When the team's professionalism, reputation or credibility is misrepresented, every employee is adversely affected.
We would like to stress that, as Terence never had an employment contract with StarHub, we were never in the position to dismiss him.
His stint with StarHub was a temporary one to begin with, thus we decided to return him to his manpower agency for other job placement opportunities after the incident.
Yes we know his name is TERENCE!
In this 282 words letter from Star Hub’s Head, Terence name was mentioned no less then 4 times.I seriously wonder whether Star Hub is doing this deliberately?
Just a case of “Hey its Terence that is clowning around and he had nothing to do with us”
Poor Terence, I guess in the future he will have a difficult time finding a permanent job with Star Hub..
He was renowned as a great communicator, skilled at bringing people together to talk to each other – but he would never have guessed that a thousand years later a powerful technology would be named after him.
The Bluetooth logo consists of the Nordic runes for its initials, H and B.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Dec 5, 2006
Cabbies not allowed to offload passengers
I REFER to Mr Chew Boon Keong's letter, 'Taxi service: Surcharge is king, not passenger' (ST, Nov 27).
Mr Chew and other readers may like to know that taxi drivers have no right to offload passengers before taking them to their destination, when the taxi driver receives a call booking.
Under the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Rules, it is an offence for any taxi driver to terminate the hiring of a taxi or require a passenger to alight before the passenger is conveyed to his destination.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) takes a serious view of such offences and will take action against the offenders. However, we need the assistance and cooperation of passengers.
We request Mr Chew to provide us with the taxi registration number (with prefix and suffix) and date and time of incident so that we can investigate the matter.
Passengers who encounter similar experiences should do likewise to help us curb this errant practice by taxi drivers.
Our number is 1800-CALL LTA (1800-2255 582).
Naleeza Ebrahim (Ms)
Media Relations Land Transport Authority
I am storing the number on my HP right now.
I encountered a few occasion when Taxi refuse to stop even though they are empty and didn’t put up NOT FOR HIRED signs.
More of the time they just act blur and drive on the furthest lane or simply look to their right even when their taxis are going forward.
I have wrote the various Taxi companies and all so call “investigation” are not complete even though I provided them the Taxi registration and time. One incident they just claims “There were no such driver for the registration of your description, please provide us with more info”.
What the $%%#$#!!!!!!!!??
Next time I will just write to LTA.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Why treat overseas employees differently?
Wednesday • December 6, 2006
Letter from Robyn M Speed
I refer to the report, "Permanent Residents debate price of citizenship", (Dec 5).
One might argue that Singapore citizens in other countries should not be entitled to the same benefits as the citizens of those countries.
It is only fair that they pay full health costs and pay more for education.
If they want the same treatment as citizens, they should take up citizenship in that country.It should not matter if Singaporeans have been living in Australia, New Zealand, or the United States for a decade or more — they should not get the same rights as the citizens. They should expect to pay more.
It is only fair. Right?
I bet you would say no; that if you do the work, you should get fair and equal treatment.
Yet, that is what Singapore wants to do to foreigners here.
You want the top professionals in the world to come and work here, to build Singapore as the top research place in the world, the top education hub. Yet you want to hold them distant, to treat them as second to the locals.
Surely these foreigners are working for Singapore and her citizens, to build your country and economy, to add to your markets and prestige.Some come here, with their families, for career opportunities.
They pay rent at the market rate for a condo apartment, their children attend an international school (because they want a sense of continuity for their children's education). Add up these costs and they are paying a lot of money, while supporting Singapore's economy.
Why do these foreign employees come here?
Because the employer decided that they were the best person for the job. Singapore is a small country and it is difficult for anyone to have the same experience as a worker who has travelled the world, worked in massive markets and learnt from the top people in their fields.
I am an expat. We all have a bond with our homeland and to turn one's back on it is considered to be almost despicable by many. Our homeland is our home in the world — you cannot lightly ask a person to give that up.
Singapore wants to be an international hub of research, education, tourism and so on. And yet, this latest move smacks of: "You are welcome to come, but … ". Foreigners are either welcome or they are not.
And beware, for there are always other markets for these people to go to.
Poor Robyn is bickering she is being treated differently from Singaporean.
Again isn’t this a logical think for every countries in the world to put their citizens first prior to expatriates.
Robyn gave a reason on why these foreigners come to work in Singapore is because their employee decided that they were the "BEST" person for the job.
The fact is many of these foreigners are facing unemployment back home and are forced to seek employment elsewhere.
Not to mention that Singapore is a much better country to live in compare to some of those countries these FTs come from.
Also we must be careful not to be a sucker for FTs as some of them are worst then Singaporean in term of work performances.
Having traveled the work does note necessary make you a better worker, in face it may even mean you cannot adapt to the new working environments.
And yes we know there are jobs elsewhere but please note these jobs are also available to Singaporean and that is the reason why the Govt is trying to make the them stay as they are cheaper compare to most expatriates.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Book those who enter the lifts with lighted cigarettes in hand
I live in a HDB apartment in Yishun. I have nothing against smokers, except those who force their habit on others.
I encounter residents who smoke in the lift daily. Being courteous and telling offenders politely to refrain from this uncivil behavior is always met with negative responses.
"You are not an officer", "I'm not inhaling, just holding the cigarette" and "It's none of your business" are just some of the common retorts.
However, the fact that I am using the elevator makes it my business. The town council tells me it is difficult for them to enforce the rule, and more conspicuous signages may help.
All I want to know is who is responsible for enforcing the smoking ban and what I can do for my part, if need be?
If coffee shops are law-abiding by maintaining "No Smoking" zones, there's no reason why public lifts are not off limits to smokers too.
All we need is an officer to book those who break the law. I'm sure this will help. The fines collected can be used to pay for the "waste of manpower".
Siew Charn Ho
I seriously wonder how many people are actually caught and fined for smoking in lifts these days. Remember all lifts carry the “FINE $500” signs.
Law without enforcement are nothing.
I’ve encounter a few time people who dare to even bring in lighted cigarette into the lift and after a told off by me they actually either wait for the next lift of put out the cigarette. Guess I am more lucky the Charn Ho.
However I did encountered many times people who came out of the lift after a smoke in there on their journey up or down the flats alone. I can tell you the smoke can lingers in an enclosed place for hours.
The way which Charn Ho’s Town Council replies to his feedback is the typical “I don’t know what to do and don’t bother me anymore” response from the civil services. I wrote into my town council a few years back regarding the same issue and till date I am still waiting for their reply.
Charn Ho’s Town council suggested “more more conspicuous signages. I doubt even when you paint the whole lift interior with no smoking signs the situation will improve. The problem is that these smokers knew they are no allow to smoke in the lift but they couldn't care less.
I guess all we need to is to install smoke detector in the lifts. Remember those urine detectors? Well nowadays I don’t see anyone urine in the lifts these days.
We just need to get a few offenders, charge them in court with the press presents and no one will do it for a long long time.
If our technology can catch people tapping into other people wireless network then I guess it will not be difficult to catch a few lift smokers.
PS: I am really interested in what the response to Charn Ho’s letter will be like.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Charge for plastic bags? NEA prefers education
I REFER to the letter, 'Start charging for plastic bags' (ST, Nov 23).
Last year, the National Environment Agency worked with the major supermarkets and the Singapore Environment Council on possible measures to curb the excessive use of plastic shopping bags.
It was agreed that we should first adopt an educational approach to encourage the public to cut down on their use, before considering more drastic measures like charging for plastic bags.
Hence, the 'Why waste plastic bags? Use reusable bags!' campaign was launched in February, to persuade shoppers to use reusable bags so as to avoid collecting more plastic bags than needed.
We acknowledge that this is a long-term process and have been organising follow-up activities, including the 'Spot the green shoppers' contest over the weekend of Nov 18 and 19, to reinforce the message of resource conservation.
If the campaign succeeds in convincing Singaporeans to switch to reusable bags, it would then not be necessary to consider imposing a charge for the use of plastic bags.
Resource Conservation Dept
National Environment Agency
I don’t see the point of encouraging people using reusable bags for their shopping. I agreed with Vincent that education is the way to go.
Personally I NEED these plastic bags to hold my trash at home.
If the supermarkets stop providing plastic bags, then I will need to buy my own trash bags. Isn’t this being more non-environmental friendly?
Singapore Surf : Life in the City.
If offer a link to all new articles on posts related to Singapore's issue with a good mix of Personal Blogs and Mass Medias articles.
This is a site that I will visit everyday to get a good summary on Singapore's issue.
Yours truely article on MRT is being linked on 28 Tuesday November 2006 under opinion.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
- Put a man who had too much onions and potatoes in every carriage.
- Reduce the cost of COE.
- Install TV mobile on the trains.
- Turn off the air condition.
- Trains to skip alternate stations.
- Declare SARS are being spread on MRT.
- Have exam for students on 365days a year.
- Raise cost of ticket to $100. (So ppl take cabs)
- Put an unidentified bag in every carriage.
10. Cancelled all train service. No train = No overcrowded train = No bad publicity.
Jam-packed trains here? It's worse in other major cities
I refer to the article 'Complaints about overcrowded trains', (Sunday Times, Nov 19).
When it comes to public transportation, Singaporeans have it good here. The trains in Singapore are far less packed during peak hours when compared to other cities around the world.
In my travels in London, Paris and Rome last year, some trains were so congested that security personnel were placed at every gate to ensure that passengers did not get trampled on or pushed onto the open tracks.
There were many signs that warn people of pickpockets.
The commuters overseas do not have the luxury of personal space as we Singaporeans have.
Yet, some of us show our selfishness in ways that I cannot comprehend.
Why block the exit of alighting passengers? Why stand on the right side of the escalator and block another person's way? If a busy city like London can do it, why not us? Overcrowded trains here? I doubt it. But a little consideration would be nice.
Siti Aisha Mostafa (Ms)
Singapore's train system is neither the best nor the worst in the world. However I got to say that there are lots of improvements needed.
Ms Siti obviously did not travel well enough. I can only say she happened to be in places where the train system just happened to be worst then Singapore’s.
I personally had been to London, Paris and Rome and I find that they are not too bad after all.
Yes they are dirtier but at least their trains run on time and I didn’t see the congestion as suggested by Ms Siti.
Well it all depends on what time and which station you are in too. But again I hope Ms Siti don’t forget that the London Tube started operation in 1863, Paris Metro in the 1900s and Rome Metro in 1955 and our dear SMRT begin operation in Nov 1987, a good 32years behind Rome.
So what’s wrong with signs warning people of pickpockets? There are similar signs in Singapore's shopping centres too. And our trains these days do have signs and public announcements warning people of suspicious character with unidentified bags which threatens to bomb our SMRT.
How about the efficiency of Hong Kong's MTR? Tokyo's and Osaka's train systems? Seoul's underground? Bangkok's Skytrain? Christchurch's Tram? Manchester’s Tram system? Etc etc…… There are so many public transport systems that are better run then our small Mass Transit system. I do hope Ms Siti increase her sampling size before commenting.
I suggest Ms Siti to visit Raffles Place or City Hall during the morning and evening rush hours and she will be in no doubt that overcrowded trains DO EXIST in dear Singapore.
Finally what I am trying to say is we must first accept the problem before we could even solve it.
If the authority keep denying that there is a problem with overcrowded train, saying Singaporeans are just spolit, then this problem will never go away.
PS : How many people in the cabinet commute by public transport daily? I will be surprised if there is any.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Every year we all took this opportunity to catch up with each other. This year there had been some re-organizing going on in my reservist Battalion so got to see some old faces for the first time since we ORD.
Looking back, we all had ORDed for about 11years already. Most of these army pals had started they own families and working each in very different fields to earn a living.
Most of us are married and with Kids, some like me don’t think it is wise to bring up a kid in Singapore.
Its great fun talking about the good old days where we suffer together during NSF time.
I also must comment that the army boys have it easy these days. The cookhouse food is much better then what it used to be. I still remember the rubber band Mee Sotos, the yam cake with ice inside and not to forget the dreaded fish during dinner’s time. YUCK.
Also it never fail to amazed me is the rush to wait, wait to rush symptom still exist in the SAF after so many years. Haha…. It is quite amazing how we could stretch 1 hour worth of work to 8 hours.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Nov 6, 2006
Income ceiling for HDB flats may be too high
I REFER to the HDB's reply, 'Smaller flats for the lower-income' (ST, Oct 23) to Ms Phang Geak Lean's letter, '$3,000 ceiling stands in way of smaller flat' (ST, Oct 12).
It states: 'The household income ceiling is $2,000 for new two-room flats and $3,000 for new three-room flats... Households with incomes of more than $3,000 can consider buying new four-room or larger flats within their affordability.'
The HDB seems to be making the assumption that those who earn more than $3,000 can afford a four-room flat.
According to the HDB's July 2006 fact sheet, the price of four-room flats is from $131,000 to $182,000. Its latest offer of four-room flats costs $230,000 to $292,000 ('450 new flats in Geylang for sale'; ST, Oct 27).
Even if we assume one is able to buy the cheapest at $131,000, the monthly repayment on a 30-year HDB subsidised loan after paying the 10 per cent downpayment is $472.
This leaves a net 'after mortgage payment' monthly disposable income of $2,528.
This amount is reduced to about $2,250 after paying service and conservancy fee, utilities, television licence fee, telephone, CPF Dependents Protection Scheme, Home Protection Scheme and home insurance premiums.
Deduct $100 for school fees and pocket money for two children, and we are left with $2,150. Based on a family of six (couple with two children living with parents), the balance per capita disposable income is $358. If we assume food at $9 and transport at $4 per person per day, total food and transport will come up to $390 per person per month.
This means the family's monthly deficit is $192 ($390 - $358 x 6), assuming they don't spend any money at all on entertainment, holidays, learning activities, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and so on.
Those who are self-employed, and do not have employer's CPF contribution for workers, may have an even higher monthly deficit.
I suggest the HDB review its income ceiling eligibility for flats, because my example clearly demonstrates that some Singaporeans who earn more than $3,000 may not be able to afford four-room flats.
Denying them the purchase of a smaller three-room flat may lead to financial stress and very little CPF when they retire.
Leong Sze Hian
A good summary by Mr Leong.
I always wonder, why the gahment are limiting people on the choice of the size of their HDB flats? Even when I earn lots of money, doesn’t it meant I cannot choose to stay in a 3 rooms HDB flat?
Well the gahment argument is that HDB flat are “Subsidized” and are for poor people and those of you who earn lots of money can go get yourself a private properties.
I find there are several weaknesses in this argument.
Firstly, the in-come ceiling formula is incorrect. Look at Mr Leong case.
He is being “forced” to get a 4 room flats and he is barely surviving after paying the monthly loans and families expenses.
Secondly, I find that the cost of HDB flats are also grossly inflated. $131,000 to $182,000 for a four room flats? And remember HDB flats are meant to provide cheap housing for poor peasants.
The reason the gahment inflated the price of the HDB flats is to drained your CPF saving so they don’t have to pay you cash when your reach 55.
Well you need flat when u get married and you have to take care of your parents. (NO CHOICE).
So how can one survive?
Take the children out of the formula.
NO KIDS and Mr Leong is instantly $816 richer per month and he can save $624 per month far better then the $192 deficit now. That’s $7488 at the end of the year and he can even take his parent for a well deserved short holiday.
Maybe our leader can first look into the cost of HDB flats if they really are worry about the declining birth rates.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Here is the response from Kathryn Lau the Assistant Corporate Communications Manager at Transit Link Pte Ltd replies with a 2 pages super formula on what to do and how much to pay when the system broke down.
Bus card reader faulty? Here's what to doTuesday
• October 31, 2006Letter from KATHRYN LAU
Assistant Corporate Communications Manager
Transit Link Pte Ltd
We refer to Mr Law Sin Ling's letter, "Do not penalise commuters for ez-link flaws" (Oct 16).
We would like to share that when the ez-link ticket payment system was not in place, only cash was accepted for fare payment.
With the ez-link system, both ez-link card and cash payment methods are available.
Nevertheless, there is a higher processing cost for cash payment, hence cash fares are slightly higher than cashless payment method.
If the ez-link software is not functioning, cash payment method has to be adopted so as to ensure that the public transport is not disrupted. Commuters may pay ez-link card fare in cash, rounded down to the nearest 10 cents.
For instance, $0.65 ez-link card fare will be rounded down to $0.60 in cash. Commuters do not pay the higher cash fare.
If the card reader is faulty before the bus leaves the bus depot, the bus will not be deployed and will be sent for maintenance.
Breakdowns of card readers in buses are minimal as buses are scheduled for regular maintenance.
If the card reader is faulty when the bus is already on the road, commuters are advised to take the following steps:
•If both entrance card readers in a bus are faulty, commuters may pay ez-link card fare in cash, rounded down to the nearest 10 cents. Commuters may file a claim for the refund of the transfer rebate (if eligible).
•If all card readers fail but bus is serviceable, commuters may pay ez-link card fare in cash, rounded down to the nearest 10 cents. Commuters may file a claim for the refund of the transfer rebate (if eligible). If commuters are already on board and all card readers in the bus become faulty, commuters may simply alight without tapping on the exit card reader and file a claim for refund.
•In cases where two exit card readers breakdown, commuters may exit from the front door by tapping ez-link card on one of the entrance card readers when the bus doors open at the destination bus stop, after the entrance card reader switch to "Entry/Exit" mode.
Commuters may file claims for transfer rebate or any wrong fare charge within five working days of the incident date in one of the following ways:
(i) TransitLink website www.transitlink.com.sg under "Customer Claim".
(ii) Toll-free TransitLink Hotline 1800-CALL ONE (1800-2255 663), open from 8am to 6pm daily and closed on public holidays (leave voicemail after operating hours).
(iii) TransitLink Ticket Offices.
The claim will be investigated. If valid, refund will be given after five working days and will be valid for three months.
Commuters may request for refund via cheque by post or direct credit to a DBS/POSB bank account. Alternatively, cash refund can be collected from any TransitLink Ticket Office.
In the event of wrong fare charge due to system error, commuters are given the option of a cash refund of the fare deducted or a complimentary bus ride voucher issued by TransitLink on behalf of the operators.We thank Mr Law for sharing his feedback.
I find this somewhat hilarious, here’s my one sentence solution.
Just don’t pay.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
The impressions I got from people who work in town are “rush, rush, rush!”
When I got out of Tanjong Paga station, oh boy, these people are mad. The were dashing towards the escalator. Mind you these people are very well dressed but their manner are worst then an aunties you see at the hawker centers.
Lunch time its another “rush, rush, rush!” People were “choping” table with their tissue. This can happen even when you are about to sit down at the table in front of your where suddenly you see the packet of tissue appear out of no where. How sick is that.
Going home its another mad rush.
If you want to see ugly Singaporean, go to our financial districts. Sad…..
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
(The above link had been "removed" from ST website. Basically is someone who wrote in to complain about a train which failed to stop at a station.)
Personally I had encountered the same experience on the MRT. These happened quite a few years back and I would expect their service to improve after all these years.
Not to forget that they keep increase their fare too and judging from things that are happeing on their trains, E.g Dirty Seats, Long interval betwen trains (try Tanah Merah to the airport or Raffles place or City hall on weekend, Over Crowded Cabins during peak hours, Smelly Cabins, Escalator which took a week to maintains (work was STOP over weekend too!)
One just have to wonder how did they justified the fare hike? Note that their profit before Tax this year was $124.1M up from $83.9M in 2005.
The only improvment I've seen over the years are the free toilets and Lift Access to the platform. Maybe the recording CCTV? But don't forget they took away all the dustbins and the fine for littering still stands, how clever is that.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Reuter, ABC and IHT together with several local blogs, I-Speak and YawningBread had good reports on the event.
Serveral things crossed my mind when I read what is happening at Hong Lin Park.
1.Why is there so many police there to monitor the situation? And why are they filming whoever and whatever there?
2.Is it necessary to overkilled the situation? I meant who is paying the police salary man!
3. Why the police is behaving in such an intimitating way? Shouldn't they be protecting the public instead? (In another word, don't they have more important job to do like catching housbreaker and robbers)
I think the reputation of the police force is taking a nose dive judging by the way they are handling this situation.
Friday, September 15, 2006
When you look closely, you can see the distinct “bragging” on the local media. In fact you don't have to look too close.
I saw on TV how workers secured the area by erecting barriers overnight, how police trained for riots, how our SCDF response to FIRE, CHEMICAL ATTACK. Also I saw how rapidly we transformed our garden city into SUPER garden city and we were also reminded not to step on the flowers before the IMF delegates saw them. And also the 4 millions smiles campaign and all those poster of “4 millions smiles welcome you” popping all over town and airport. And news on how our airport staffs are trained to welcom the delegates.
When you look at alternate media, below all this “wayang” there is actually much displeasure.
Firstly, I pity those who work at Suntech, I have read many of them complaining how inconvenience it is for them to get to work these days and how long a driver had to get to work these days. But somehow the people the media interviewed seem to love all these inconveniences and said they don’t mind these as all.
I wonder why Singapore want to host the event in the first place? I suspect we are in for the monetary benefits.
But had the organizing committee weight the pro and cons before taking up the project.
For when chose to host this event, the whole world is looking at us. Well this is good if everything goes well but the hard-handed banned on civil societies are making us look bad to the world already.
I pity the shop owner at Suntech, high rent, no sales, sound like bankruptcy to me.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Sep 6, 2006
NSman called up for first ICT at age 36
I WAS surprised to receive notice recently of my first In-Camp Training (ICT) at the age of 36.
How could Mindef expect NSmen to complete the full cycle of their ICT if they start only at 36? Does it mean that NSmen have to go for longer and more frequent ICTs each year in order to do so?
As most NSmen of this age are at the peak of their careers and many are in senior-management positions, going for ICT would definitely affect business operations.
More importantly, most of these NSmen would have families with young children. They have to manage both busy work schedules and taking care of the family.
I have appealed for deferment after the first request was rejected. Until today, I have not heard from Mindef despite numerous calls to the National Servicemen Services Centre (NSSC). I was told by the NSSC staff that they could not transfer my call to the person in-charge, nor could the person in-charge call me or my employer.
I didn't even know which was my unit until I called the NSSC to find out, and even then the staff do not have the contact number of the unit.
Tan Thiam Huat
Look at this poor Thiam Huat, bickering about MINDEF calling him up at 36 for his first in-camp.
Firstly we do not know what rank Thiam Huat in holding, if he is an officer then he is eligible to serve until he is 50yrs (if I am correct). Say there is 10 cycles of reservist to served and by law MINDEF can recall you up to 40 days in a year. From my own experience, an in-camp will last you maximum 14-16days and a short one lasted 6 days. So mathematically and legally you can complete at least 4 cycles in a year.
Haha… so Thiam Huat logically can complete his ICT in 3 years time before he even reach the ripe old age of 40.
If Thiam Huat really is concern about completing ICT earlier or spending more time with his young children or busy carving out his careers, then what has he been doing from the time he ORD till now?? He should have jolly well wrote to MINDEF and request for ICT immediately after he ORD. Gosh! I bet he was happily hoping MINDEF had forgot about him and will not call him up till he is 40yrs old which will be too old if he is not holding on to a commanding position. Guess he had even forgot to downgrade himself during this time!
AND… doesn’t all other Nsmen in have families and career to balance? Some even have studies to balance too! So Thiam Huat, if you can't balance you career and family life, you should renounce your citizenship and move to some nice country that does not required National services.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Its amazed me how fast the city is changing. I was there only last year and there are already several new shopping malls and several more are half way through their constructions.
Now am just trying to catch up with the news for the past week.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Drawing from his personal experience, Mr Goh said, "My wife and I are fortunate that our son and daughter are not DINKs. They do not have a double income. My daughter is not working; my daughter-in-law is also not working, so no double income. They have three children each, which means my wife and I have six grandchildren - and they are all granddaughters. And because they are all granddaughters, there may be a chance that my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband may want a boy - or that's what I hope!"
Mr Goh's son, Dr Goh Jin Hian, is a medical doctor and the executive director of Parkway Shenton.
And his daughter, Goh Jin Theng, is in England with her English husband, Lee Craven.
Let see, if my dad earn about S$1.5million a year = $115,000 / month (Safe estimate) and my hubby as Executive Director who is a medical doctor, I estimate monthly pay to be at least S$10K ($5K /month for junior doctor).
Gosh I affort to be a stand home mum too!
And I guess these salaries can buy lots of diapers and I sure can hired one maid each for my kids.
This again showed how detached out gahment are from the people on the street. SIGH… remember who said $600,000 is peanut?
Monday, August 21, 2006
Maybe this is what our PM meant by embracing Foreign Talents?
More FT to stimulate the economy.
I personally had written a complaint letter to CAAS on limo taxi drivers touting at the airport. What a disgrace to Singapore.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Gosh! It is much more expensive to live here then in Rome, LA, San Francisco, Stockholm, Chicago, Miami and Toronto!!
And I am pretty sure they pay better in these cities, which implied that we are being screwed!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
It is sad to note the rate of increase for abortions, death of children under 5, and people with no safe drinking water.
Lighter side, I am amazed at the rates of lighting strikes!! Better be careful when you are out there!
More babies born in H1 but Singapore still stuck in low fertility trap
More babies were born in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2005.
The Registration of Births and Deaths recorded 18,294 births in the first half of this year, some 300 more than the same period last year.
The Singapore economy is on an upswing and so are the birth numbers: 37,492 babies were born last year.
But in the first half of this year, more babies were delivered, compared to the same period last year.
Not only are there more first-borns, more parents are also having their second, third and fourth child.
But a population expert tells our reporter that this marginal increase is still not enough to lift Singapore out of its low fertility trap......
Here's the rest of the article
What ironic about this is during the 70s-80s, our gahment had extensive campaign of restricting 2 kids per family to prevent over population.
I remember my aunty was FINED for having her 3rd baby.
I also heard horror stories of Grumpy nurses and doctors scolding pregnant woman for coming in too early for delivery.
At the turn of the century, our Gahment realized that our population is ageing due to less babies being born every years. Is this due to the successful campaign?
Singapore had followed the trends of every “developed” national where birth rates are declining years after years.
Looking at the table , we only have about 9.34 babies born / 1000 population.
Therefore in recent years we’ve seen our gahment dramatically stepped up their encouragement campaign for couples to have more babies.
They were giving out baby bonus, increasing maternal leaves from 2 months to 3 months and airing pro-family advertisement during prime time.
But are they solving the root cause of falling birth rates? I don’t think so.
First let me analysis why birth rates are falling in Singapore.
Ask any of your young friends and the main reason they give are the cost of living is going up, stressful work environment and poor child care facitlitis.
Today it is not cheap to give birth. Note only the delivery are cost about $3,000, excluding those pre and pos delivery treatments.
If a young couple had a baby, who is going to look after him/her? In the seventies, my mum can afford to be a housewife and she took care of my sister and myself.
Today with the cost of living going up and with salaries increment slowing down, there is a dangerous exponential increase in the cost of living. Therefore both parents HAVE TO work in Singapore.
Working environment is still not family friendly. Not to forget there should be more benefit to be given to fathers as well.
My company use to have only “child-care-leaves” for general staffs and none for executive. Only last year did they extends the leaves to the executives.
I am glad that there is some improvement but I wonder which idiot came up with the separation in the first place. Does it meant that executive’s babies and less subject to sickness?
Until the infrastructure of,“Pro families Singapore” and the cost of living improved in Singapore, I doubt there is any way the gahment can increase the birth rates. In fact I think they had already give up and try to “import” foreign talenst.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Orderliness results were medium which suggests you are moderately organized, hard working, and reliable while still remaining flexible, efficient, and fun.
Extraversion results were low which suggests you are very reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and secretive.
Advanced Global Personality Test Results
personality tests by similarminds.com
Thursday, August 03, 2006
2. The only nation in the world where you need a certificate to own a car.
3. We have the longest serving PM.
4. A nation where first they ask you to have only 2 kids and fine you for
having the 3rd but later ask you to have at least 2 and give you bonus to have the 3rd.
5. We fine you for almost everything.
6. We have urine detector in our lifts.
7. Where goodies mysteriously are given out in every 4 years.
8. Where joining an opposition party = Death wish.
9. A nation where people stand on the right side of the escalator when the signs ask you to stand on the left.
10. A nation where the people love to smell the exterior doors of the MRT when it pull up to the station.
11. Where putting tissue papers on tables meant, “This is my table and don’t you dare sit on it.”
12. We have one of the world best computer games geek.
13. The only country in the world where prostitution is legal.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Come on how can a nation where you see, “States Land, No trespassing” signs on almost any open piece of land can achieve a World Cup Final Spots by 2010? Even China did not make it to the final this year.
No wonder FAS decided to ditch the project in 2003. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/cna/analysis/031223_soccer.htm
I am not saying a nation with small population will not be able to achieve excellent in sports but I believe our parents rather see their sons and daughter become a doctors, lawyers or a plastic surgeon. If they ever want to take up sports, take up those that are “more prestigious” like Golf and Sailing.
Maybe we should go for projects like WIND 2010 (Sailing) or EAGLE 2010 (GOLF).
So far I see the most successful sport is Table Tennis and even so we imported our players. SIGH…
Maybe if we import David Beckham, Ronaldino, Kaka etc to form the starting 11 then I think we shall not have a problem in getting into the world cup final. The project should be named GOAL 2004 long time ago if we started early.
Singapore Fifa world ranking = 111 position
Monday, July 24, 2006
Remember those days when we:
- Need to get everything out of the cupboard in 5min? (That’s Easy)
- Then need to arrange everything neatly back in 5min? (Now you try that)
- Fall in all cupboards in the corridor.
- Polish you boots till you can see your own reflection.
- Doing over 100 push-ups in a go.
- Remains in push up position for 45mins.
- Prone in muddy water.
- Take you rifle into the shower (YES I did that and wash the mud off it too)
- Dig that bloody trench overnight and experienced my first hallucination.
- Doing knuckle push up till you bleed (Don’t know whether is it still the same these days for unarmed combat training)
- Kiwi the tires of the 5-tonner (YES I DID THAT)
- Soaked completely in my uniform, then sun dried completely and then soaked completely again.
- Spending the weekend cleaning the cookhouse’s rubbish dump.
- Eating cookhouse food. (Yeah if you think the food is bad now, try those that were cook by the NS Ah Bengs YUCK)
- Scrub the toilet so clean that you can eat from the floor. (NO I AM NOT LYING)
- Pick up leaves in front of the bloody office lines with my bare hands for 3 months.
- Burnt by the empty cartridges from that idiot at the firing lane next to me.
Looking back these are some of the things that make the man out of boys. I am proud I did that and till today am still a combat fit soldier. No like those sissies or white horse sitting in office as clerk or drivers. Worst are those who Keng! I see you no up.
Although we lament that NS is a waste of time, I have to agreed that some of the things we do are totally useless (like burning weekend to support National Days/ CO passing out parade…blah blah blah). But looking at the bright side it makes a better person out of moi.
Happy National Day Singapore from my the bottom of my heart and I won’t be showing it by flying the flag.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I am a Transformer Fan since young. I even bought the original Soundwave toys back in Primary school days. Don’t have lots of money back then but having my all time favorite Decepticon is real happiness.
I think I managed to catch all of the TV series and the original anime Movie. So this Transformer movie will definitely be on my must watch list in 2007.
A few year ago when I was traveling in Japan, I came across a high quality Transformer toys by Takara. Bought the toys and it really brought back memories. As I was pondering where to get the subsequent ones, I was lucky to find someone who brought them in from Japan at a reasonable price. So after a few more purchase later I am happy. Although now I got more spending power compare to the schoolboy me, I do not have much time playing with them now as I would like. Sad isn’t it? But at least they are there on my shelve waiting for me.