Friday, May 06, 2011

Is the Housing situation really that bad now?

Is the housing Situation really that bad now?
Lets take a look at the information provided by the DOS and HDB.
Performing a comparison for the past 3 years.
(HDB resale prices data only show from Q2 2007 onwards)

In 2007
4 Room Resale flats go for about S$278,000.
Median household income for 2007 was S$4,375
Assuming the household takes a 90% loan from the HDB for 30 yrs.
Monthly insallment would be S$984 per month.

In 2010
4 Room Resale flats go for about S$385,000. Median household income for 2007 was S$5,000
Assuming the household takes a 90% loan from the HDB for 30 yrs.
Monthly insallment would be S$1388 per month.

Median Income increased 12.5% percent from 2007.

The monthly payment required from a median income household increases 41% from 2007 to 2010.

Is it due to influx of forgien workers keeping wages down?

Or is it due to the influx of forgieners increasing demand for housing?

Or is it the HDB's bright idea to implement the BTO scheme?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Loss of a Great man. A True Son of Singapore

Today is a sad day for Singaporeans. Today we mourn the loss of, arguably the greatest “Freedom Fighter” in Singapore. A man who stood by his beliefs, never backing away or compromising the values he believed in. Even in the face of relentless persecution. He will be revered and remembered. Today we mourn the loss of a great man, Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam.

Heartfelt condolences go out to his family. He will be missed.

A Lawyer, a Judge, an Opposition Party Leader, a Patriot, a Martyr and an inspiration to many. Jeyaretnam was the leader of the Workers' Party of Singapore, challenging the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), which had effectively ruled Singapore as a one-party state.

Representing the Workers' Party, Jeyaretnam defeated the People's Action Party's Pang Kim Him in the 1981 Anson by-election becoming the first opposition MP in Singapore. He was again re-elected in 1984.

Jeyaretnam served as an MP for the Workers' Party of Singapore from 1981-86, and again from 1997-2001. Having left the Workers' Party, he recently formed the Reform Party to challenge the more than 40-year rule of the People's Action Party.

He died from a heart attack at about 1:30am this morning.

Wikipedia Article on JB Jeyaretnam.

Youtube tribute to the great man.

Amnesty International- background of defamation cases

'Come, walk with me, let us walk together... for peace, justice, truth... fearing no one except God,' Quote from Mr Jeyaretnam.

Thank you Sir, for your courage, strength and shining example. Thank you for standing up for truth, thank you for standing in the gap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Death of the Independent Operator

Tight commerce laws and regulations have caused the wealth to accumulate at the upper echelons of the many corporate pyramids here in Singapore. Take the example of Taxi drivers/companies here in Singapore.

Are taxi drivers still allowed to own their own vehicles? Are the independent operators being squeezed out from the field? Or, are cabbies forever tied to a taxi company via a leash, subjected to the whims of the taxi company if they so choose to remain a taxi driver? Its not so bad, if the taxi drivers have strong union representation, but in Singapore, unions are virtually powerless unless union laws are changed.

There is no justification of for the highly paid CEOs of the transport companies whose monthly salary that may feed up to half a dozen families of taxi drivers. Owning his/her own vehicle would benefit the driver in the long run, giving him/her greater responsibility and control over his/her earnings, which incidentally, does contribute to the narrowing of the income gap here in Singapore. Spread the wealth amongst the people, why must everything go upwards?

Taxi companies, as they get bigger, will get “top heavy” with the needs to pay for huge office rentals, exorbitant salaries of senior executives and other resources, to manage the fleet of taxis. Leaving the onus of the taxi maintenance to the driver/owner is one way to go. Taxi companies should remain, to give those drivers who prefer rental a choice. Giving them a choice will then drive the taxi companies to give those who chose to rent, better perks for rental, or even lower rental costs. Also the freedom for taxi owners to rent out their vehicles when they are ill or unable to drive. Why must everything thing here in SG be so tight assed.

But that’s the trend of our country’s economy isn’t it? Somehow, the “comfort zone” is always just an inch away, but still unable to reach it. This phenomenon is extremely prevalent in the middle lower income groups. Co’mon PAP, give the little guy a chance to run his little business, and earn a little comfortable living.

Project manager who is exposed to both working in SG and Australia quoted saying "PMs in SGP have it easy, here in Aust, have to make the staff as happy as you want the customer to be. In SGP, just squeeze, staff have to comply, if not, there is always someone else cheaper to do the job."

Tis the result of capitalism some may assert. Well, there is capitalism and there is the government making amicable polices that level the playing field a little bit. Don't kill the little guy out to make a living.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Public Transport Fee Hike Comdemned by NSP

Press Release - Burden of Fare Hikes on Commuters is Unjustified
Wed, Sep 12, 2007

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) condemns the latest approval of bus fare hike by the Public Transport Council (PTC). Fare hikes have become an annual ritual which highlights the sordid mechanism behind the regulation of standards and fares by the PTC.

The Chairman of PTC Mr. Gerald Ee acknowledged that �the current service frequency was not good enough when 'operational deviation' was factored in�. The tightening of the basic Quality of Service (QoS) by the PTC therefore constitutes a tacit admission that the service standard for buses has dropped below the mark of decent acceptability for some years, even as fare hike applications continue to be favourably approved year after year.

The PTC stated that it was "mindful not to increase the cost of compliance" to Public Transport Operators (PTOs), thus opting to phase in the new standards in 2 years, with fines thereafter of up to $10,000 per month for each instance of non-compliance.

The NSP would like to punctuate the salient point that such punitive fines will unavoidably result in either the passing of the cost liability to commuters, or in an invariable reduction in service standards not directly measured by the QoS such as interior ambience and comfort of ride.

The NSP strongly recommends that fare hike applications by PTOs be dismissed until the basic service standard is first achieved within the stipulated 2 years, and subsequently maintained for at least 5 years thereafter, subjected to a stringent and transparent process of annual assessment.

Mr Gerald Ee�s assumption that Singapore�s economic growth automatically translates to affordability for bus commuters is questionable. In the latest hike, the highest increment was for the shortest trips. This will hurt the heartlanders most as they are often those with low or no income. Affordability is a nonsense reason for a fare hike, especially since public transport is an essential service.

Singapore�s �economic growth� has seen workers in the lower 40% of the population suffering little or no improvement in their salaries. Their misery is compounded by the fact that the inflation rate for the lowest 20% continued to peak well above that of the highest 20% income earners, even surpassing the general household inflation rate. And this is despite the occasional government handouts. Those with �extra� money would prefer to save it or spend in on other essentials instead of �squandering� it on increased bus fares.

In the latest quarterly financial report of SBS Transit, fuel cost decreased by 6.6%, while operating profit increased by 36.9% as compared to the corresponding quarter last year. Profit after tax to shareholders increased by 25%. Manpower cost increased by a manageable 4.4% which was more or less offset by the decrease in fuel cost. For SMRT, cost of staff and fuel decreased, while profit after tax increased by a whopping 38.5%.

The impressive double-digits profits of PTOs far overshadow the meagre pay increment of many citizens. It is hence dishonourable to further fatten the coffers of the PTOs by diluting the citizens� hard-earned gains.

The PTC acknowledged that Singapore has a �restricted number of service providers and an absence of real market competition�. The unchallenged business position of the existing PTOs will allow their businesses to continue to stay attractively profitable for the foreseeable long-term without needing to rip more from commuters. This is evident from the rapid expansion of profitable businesses of the PTOs both at home and overseas.

The NSP would like to pound on the need for improvements to the grotesquely inadequate fare formula, a demand which have been repeated incessantly by the indignant public.

The formula must include elements which incorporate the degree of compliance to the QoS. The PTC must recognise that the lower and lower-middle income group constitute the bulk of public transport commuters. The formula must thus factor in their (low) earning power and relatively higher incurred inflation, and not merely incorporates the national average which skews in favour of the well-to-do who do not generally commute by bus.

Finally, the profits of the PTOs and their payouts to shareholders must be considered in the equation. If necessary, the PTC should oblige these lucrative PTOs to raise extra funds from their benefited shareholders instead of exploiting the lack of viable alternatives for the people through constant fare hikes. It is preposterous for the PTC to safeguard the interest of the shareholders of PTOs at the expense of commuters.

The NSP hopes that the members of the PTC can step onboard public transports more regularly to enable them to empathise with the commuters, and recognise their fair rights and interests.

Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Centrepoint's "Black Saturday".

I arrived at Centrepoint around 3:40pm. Saw SDP's "roadshow" as I drove past, before turning left into the carpark. I did think to myself, "hmm, no surprise they are here, hope they don't hijack the black 'event' tho."

I think SDP was courteous enough to packup their roadshow and change in black at 4pm sharp. Whether the courtesy was intended or not, as one of those in black, I "tip my hat" to you.

As I watched the SDP folks pack up, I overheard a youngish looking female reporter asking someone nearby (in black with a zoom len expensive looking Digi Cam with a companion dressed in white Tshirt) "But you are wearing black, why?" or something like that. The guy just insisted that he was a concerned passerby or something like that.

At around 4:15pm, I was strolling around the 2nd and 3rd stories. There was definitely a slightly higher number of people wearing black at centerpoint on Saturday 8 Sept. I did exchange smiles with some at the entrance, although there was this chap at the entrance in a White England Soccer Jersey who was people-watching with a grumpy look on his face, like he’s weekend was burnt. =P
High enough number of black clothing to call it abnormal, perhaps not. Did they all disagree with the compulsory annuity? I don’t know for sure. But going around spotting the plainclothes did provide some free entertainment while my date went shopping at Mango and Gap. Also some amusement much later, to see Uncle Yap with his cellphone snapping away at “middle aged men” who were loitering in groups or 2’s and 3’s.

I proceeded to the basement to see what were the Chee's up to. From afar, they looked like they are surrounded by reporters at MacDonald's. (Including 2 -3 Caucasians with huge zoom lens cams)

Went back up to the ground floor a while later, spent a short while walking up and down the mall, spotted a plainclothes a the top, with a walkie, who spent most of his time there on a wooden bench, looking down.

It was past 5:20, and I thought of leaving, after watching 4-5 of the plainclothes take a smokebreak (I think only the one posted at the top floor smoked) next to the taxi stand. Oh and Grumpy in the england jearsy was still at the entrance together with his chinese colleague.

So I thought, ok walk through the mall one last time to add my presence. l went through the basement, saw the CNA female reporter, looking somewhat exasperated. Hopefully she did get something to publish. I proceeded upstairs via the escalator, and started walking near or next to people who wore black. Standing next to a guy who was wearing black, just to add to the black presence.

Then I noticed there was a "black presence" in front of the Cultural Musical performance. See pic below. Ok, so I thought, ok I'll watch and add to the "Blackness". Guess what, the plainsclothes taking a break at the taxi stand all came back in, surrounding the "performance". 2 were watching from behind the stage, leaning on the railing at the escalators. 2 were on the right of the audience, on the 2nd floor, leaning on the railings. And a youngish looking skinhead was watching from the mooncake/pastry booths.

When the performance ended, I proceeded to Macs to get a drink, saw a group of like 5-6 black at Macs, thought of taking a photo, but then thought better of it. I then departed CP after that with my date for dinner. All in all, I think, it felt good. Hopefully the press did get something.

Success or not, largely depends on your point of view or expectations. If one expected this event to actually steer Government polices, then its was not really much of a success to speak about.

But then again, steering Government polices is not something that the people (who wore black to centrepoint yesterday afternoon) wanted or expected to achieve isn't it? Taking action to show or pass on a message of disagreement or objection to government polices, is still at its infancy here in Singapore. Even an alien concept to some.

In my opinion, this event is just another milestone in the political maturity of Citizens here in Singapore, where people who actually disagree but more than often, end up saying : "Aiyah, protest also no use. Its the Government leh".

A message of disagreement or objection to a policy or Government decision, does not have to end in violence, or even breaking the Law.

I hope this even will build in momentum, generate more awareness that Singaporeans actually have a say, and can say something, other than “Yes” to the Government, in an ever so slightly more assertive manner.

To all those who came in black, don't give up, even if the press brushes this of as nothing. Even if the government or anyone comes out and call this a pointless endeavour. Do not back down, continue to spread the word. The Government will do all it can to discred it even, do not let negative press of the event discourage you from participating further.

Just as importantly, do not be goaded or baited into more extreme or confrontational practices, in future similar events. Keep it as it is, but help the numbers grow, generate awareness, spread the word. Keep the event peaceful and non-confrontational.

I propose the same thing, same time, same place, same colour on 15/09. Hopefully we Singaporeans can get things moving, and keep the momemtun building.

I was aiming for the Chinese cultural performance on the right, guess my aim was a little off.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote from one of the guys who started the idea, from Sammyboy Alfresco Coffeeshop.

Hi everyone.

Please remember this event is to show our displeasure over the forced compulsory annuities that starts payouts at age 85 and forfeits our capital upon death before 85. It is not against the current annuities available.

Please also don't be foolish enough to get identified and marked for life. There are many people here who have many different agendas, please do not in a moment of anger against the government be used by them.

We have to remember why we are going to CentrePoint dressed in black on 8th September 2007.

8th September 2007 is a day we all go shopping in CentrePoint, but dressed in black. When you are there, please don't just stand there - you may get singled out - just go shopping within CentrePoint. There is no need to be fully black from head to toe, just either the top or bottom is black can liao.

I am strongly against any suggestions that will identify the participants. I disagree with wearing a black armband or a black ribbon or anything that will sets us apart, I think it is a very foolish idea as such items will identify us.

It will make it very much easier for the authorities to differentiate who are the real shoppers and who are those against the compulsory annuities scheme.

Being identified is not the name of the game. We don't intend to be martyrs - please make sure you don't become one.

It is a citizens' effort, we don't need people like CSJ because we are not making a political statement. We do it because we love - we want equitable policies for ourselves and our love ones. So, please don't be used by others for their own hidden agendas.

Shopping is not a crime. Shopping dressed in black is also not a crime. We just want to tell the government, please think of us when they come out with future policies. It is not our aim to bring down the government. We just want them to know that we have feelings, we have aspirations and we know how to think and in future, when they come up with policies, they should be equitable policies.

So, just go shopping with friends and relatives - no need for heroics. And for maximum impact, it will be good if all of us can be there from 4pm onwards. Can you just imagine an entire CentrePoint building of shoppers dressed in black? Shopping is a national pastime, so let's just go shopping on the 8th September 2007 dressed in black in CentrePoint for a good cause!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Against Compulsory Annuity


Date and Time: 8 September Saturday, 4pm

Dress in Black

Center point

(SMS all friends, and have a day out)

We are not armchair critics, as long as there is a great surge of shoppers in Centerpoint at around 4pm on Saturday, we have achieved something.

Say NO to CPF $60k Rule and Compulsory Annuity

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Pastor Martin Niemöller