Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Hong Lim Park (27 Sep 2014) Incident

Two events held at Hong Lim Park at same time on Saturday


27 Sep 2014 22:06

One was the YMCA Proms @the Park, which received approval to hold their event on Sep 9, according to NParks and the police. The other event, a protest rally against the CPF scheme, had its permit approved on Sep 22. 

SINGAPORE: Hong Lim Park saw two events held at the same time today, resulting in some unsavoury scenes.

A group protesting against the CPF scheme were seen marching round a YMCA carnival at the Park. They held placards and shouted slogans, frightening those at the carnival and disrupting performances, including those by special needs children.

The Show-Off Society - Symptoms of Income Inequality

SEPT. 25, 2014

Paul Krugman

Liberals talk about circumstances; conservatives talk about character.

This intellectual divide is most obvious when the subject is the persistence of poverty in a wealthy nation. Liberals focus on the stagnation of real wages and the disappearance of jobs offering middle-class incomes, as well as the constant insecurity that comes with not having reliable jobs or assets. For conservatives, however, it’s all about not trying hard enough. The House speaker, John Boehner, says that people have gotten the idea that they “really don’t have to work.” Mitt Romney chides lower-income Americans as being unwilling to “take personal responsibility.” Even as he declares that he really does care about the poor, Representative Paul Ryan attributes persistent poverty to lack of “productive habits.”

Let us, however, be fair: some conservatives are willing to censure the rich, too. Running through much recent conservative writing is the theme that America’s elite has also fallen down on the job, that it has lost the seriousness and restraint of an earlier era. Peggy Noonan writes about our “decadent elites,” who make jokes about how they are profiting at the expense of the little people. Charles Murray, whose book “Coming Apart” is mainly about the alleged decay of values among the white working class, also denounces the “unseemliness” of the very rich, with their lavish lifestyles and gigantic houses.

Friday, September 26, 2014

In praise of China’s new economic normal



China’s economy is, at long last, undergoing a rebalancing, with growth rates having declined from more than 10 per cent before 2008 to roughly 7.5 per cent today.

Is this the nation’s “new normal”, or should Beijing anticipate even slower growth in the coming decade?

China’s rebalancing is apparent, first and foremost, in the export sector. Export growth has slowed from its 2001 to 2008 average of 29 per cent annually to below 10 per cent, making foreign demand a far less critical engine of growth.

Moreover, manufacturing employment and output, as a share of the total, began to decline last year. In fact, in the first half of this year, services accounted for more than half of total economic growth.

It is no surprise then that China’s current-account surplus has shrunk rapidly, from its 2007 peak of more than 10 per cent of gross domestic product to about 2 per cent of GDP today.

The political forces shaping our future



By Devadas Krishnadas

September 25

Following its poor showing at the 2011 General Elections, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is recasting itself as being more responsive to the people and investing in social policies to make its platform more “people-centric”.

Various education, healthcare, housing, retirement, immigration and labour policies have been tweaked or are under review.

If opinions on popular social media platforms are anything to go by, the PAP’s relentless campaign to overhaul its image has been a mixed success.

The opposition Workers’ Party has also largely proved ineffectual despite its strengthened representation in Parliament. This prompts the question: What about our political environment is proving so challenging for both the incumbent and opposition to find traction?

Ways to fix the missing cab problem

Sep 25, 2014


DITCH all surcharges, impose all-day levies at far-flung places or introduce even more surcharges to solve the longstanding problem of disappearing taxis just before the peak period.

These are some of the solutions that experts, industry players and taxi drivers have suggested, after the issue resurfaced recently.

Financial Realities - Youth and Retirement



S’pore youth feel financially unprepared for future: Survey


SINGAPORE — Many young Singaporeans feel they are not financially ready for the future and their projected amount of savings falls far short of the amount they believe is necessary to fund their retirement, a recent survey commissioned by NTUC Income showed.

The Nielsen survey — which polled more than 1,000 final-year polytechnic students, university undergraduates and young workers aged between 18 and 29 — also found that the majority of young Singaporeans had prudent attitudes towards financial planning. Most respondents agreed that saving was a priority and expressed the need to be in control of their financial matters.

However, despite knowing the importance of financial planning, only 18 per cent of respondents had created a financial plan for themselves, while only 7 per cent had reviewed their financial situation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kind helper bonds with ah ma

Sep 24, 2014

By Corrie Tan

My grandmother died a few weeks ago. She went very peacefully, in the comfort of home, at the grand old age of 96.

Ah ma, as we called her in Teochew, was diagnosed with dementia nearly 20 years ago, and she also had Parkinson's disease, which meant that her motor skills eventually degenerated and that she moved from being wheelchair-bound to bedridden.

We started hiring domestic helpers who had the physical strength to help her move around and use the shower and bathroom. She eventually became completely uncommunicative verbally - she could not hold conversations or express how she felt.

This was around the time we hired our final domestic helper, a young woman from Indonesia named Yuli. She had never worked abroad. She giggled incessantly at first when my mother taught her how to care for my grandmother and how to do basic household chores.

But she was sweet and earnest - and despite having no common language with which to connect with my grandmother emotionally, Yuli grew very fond of her.

When my grandmother was admitted to the hospital last month for developing an auto-immune disease, Yuli was deeply worried. She approached my mother and asked if she could give her $100 for my grandmother's hospital fees.

My mother declined this, of course. The amount was nearly 20 per cent of Yuli's pay, a huge sacrifice for a young woman supporting a family back home.

Earlier this week, I watched a video put together by my colleagues at The Straits Times Digital team about 60-year-old Richard Ashworth, who had hired a male helper from Myanmar to care for his elderly adopted father John, 81, who had dementia.

The younger Ashworth said, teary-eyed and voice cracking, that he had considered suicide because he just could not cope with the demands of caring for his father, whose behaviour was getting more and more difficult to manage - even turning violent.

Laminn Koko, the young man from Myanmar that Mr Ashworth had hired, was disappointed at the standards of the nursing homes they visited, and said he could take care of Uncle John better on his own.

He said: "I told my boss - I'm still here. I can take care of both Uncle John and you."

There is a gratitude I am not sure I will ever know how to express to the men and women who treat our grandparents - and parents - like their own.

When the undertaker and his assistants arrived to take my grandmother's body and prepare it for the funeral, Yuli cried silently, standing vigil by the doorway, shoulders shaking in quiet sobs. She scrolled through pictures of herself and my grandmother that she had taken on her mobile phone.

In her broken English, she told us, haltingly: "Ah ma and ah kong (grandfather) are together now."

Yuli reminded me of humanity's ability to look past the borders of culture, nationality, skin colour and language, to be able to adopt another person as part of our own emotional family - moving from the divide of employee-employer to the realm of kith and kin.

My youngest sister, who is 19, rarely had the chance to communicate with my grandmother in her lifetime; the past decade of ah ma's life was spent drifting in and out of lucid moments.

She told me wistfully: "It's so strange - ah ma is my biological grandmother, but Yuli is closer to her than I ever was."

I, too, felt a deep twinge of guilt and regret. I had been so fixated on how I would never be able to communicate with my grandmother - she spoke only Teochew and I spoke none - that I had forgotten about how to connect with her by simply being there. Holding her hand. Taking her out for some fresh air.

So many of the domestic helpers who flock to Singapore in search of a better life eventually form deep bonds with the people they meet here. Their employers, initial strangers, soon become the bedrock of their new life.

These helpers might live with a single family for years and years, watching the children in their care grow up, or they might, like Yuli, spend a short but intense period with the employer.

Yuli has since changed employers - she will be caring for another elderly woman with dementia.

I wish her all the best, and I hope she will bring as much kindness and generosity to her new family as she did mine.