Thursday, January 31, 2013

White Washed Paper

The Population White Paper is really one piece of shoddy work. There's no bibliography, annotations or scholarly references cited to support it's preposterous arguments or constructs. Even if the authors were to package it with iPods, Mont Blanc pens or tailored shirts, no professor will give it a decent grade. It's fit for one purpose only. You are in the smallest room of the house, the paper is in front of you, then it's behind you. Don't forget to flush.

Seriously, anyone one can spot the white lies from Batam, Bintang or Johore Baru. Some snippets:

The young couple who bought the $2m Executive Condominium had to rely on daddy's help to finance the purchase. A fresh graduate starting work will have to count on his parents' assistance to afford that $100K Certificate of Entilement. The old folks probably had to downgrade their HDB flat to send his child overseas because the place in the local university was taken up by an alien. Welcome to the new normal. Thanks to the high cost of living, the young can no longer support the old, the old is now forced to draw down on his life savings to keep the family unit intact.

$400 million extra to encourage marriage and having children, $1.1 billion extra for more buses to accommodate the foreign hoards. Enuff said.

The government imposes ethnic quotas for Chinese, Malays and Indians in its public housing estates, to ensure a good interracial mix in residential areas. There's no such restriction for masses of North Indians taking over the condominiums in the East Coast. "I'm told in Australia, Sydney, there's one area which is a Vietnamese village... All the Vietnamese mafias are in that area, you go in at your own risk.  We have not allowed that to develop here." (LKY, Hard truths, page 272). The old coot obviously haven't ventured much out of Oxley Rise recently.

If immigrants share ethnic backgrounds, the curry wars would not have erupted. LKY heard the confessions of one middle aged new citizen from China on 95.8 FM: "How can I assimilate? I try. But I eat different food, different cooking, my life habits are different.  My children go to local schools, they'll become Singaporean naturally. But overnight, how can I change?" At least that guy was truthfully honest, unlike the ping pong player who scooted off with the medals and prize money, son in tow, before he reaches enlistment age.

Having our toddlers speak Tagalog because of close proximity to the foreign domestic is not complementary to our skill set. We don't need another Alvin Tan ASEAN scholar to encourage bedroom innovations. The CNB, SCDF and NUS have enough problems in that area. Look at what happened to Michael Palmer. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has been in the country for quite some time now, are we any closer to a new social network start-up?

This is the only honest bit of disclosure in the whole white wash. Except that the young are leaving not just for exciting and growing cities. They are leaving for countries where there's habitable living space, ample room for free expression, and money grabbing politicians can actually be voted out of office.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Excuse Me, You A Singaporean?

They are mocking us. They are pissing on us without the courtesy of calling it rain. They want to make this a place where, out of the projected 6.9 million in 2030, half will be "non-resident foreigners".

Once again playing fast and loose with statistics, Teo Chee Hean said that Singapore's density will be 13,000 people per sq m, lower than Hong Kong's 22,000 per sq m.  According to the World Bank report published in 2012, the Hong Kong figure was last reported at 6,782 in 2010. The difference is looking at Hong Kong the island, and Hong Kong the country.

Recall the prime minister telling a gathering organised by the Institute of Public Studies (IPS), "a lot of things are not going to be written down."

What they wrote down in the White Paper on population issues, the so-called "Three Pillars" to support the future country;
First, Singaporeans form the core of our society. To be strong and cohesive,we we must have a strong Singapore core;
Second, our population and workforce must support a dynamic economy that can steadily create good jobs and opportunities to meet Singaporeans' hopes and aspirations;
Third, we must continue to keep Singapore a good home.

What they obviously did not write down, and keeping hidden from us:
First, the core of our Singaporean identity is being diluted by the intake of foreign elements. By weakening the core, the strength and cohesiveness demonstrated recently at Punggol East will be eroded;
Second, the population and workforce will be the batteries to fuel a economy that benefit the elites and their cronies, who own two cars ("My wife own one and I own one, we are both professionals" - colorectal surgeon). The good jobs will be there, but not for the mere mortals. We will be crammed into public transport - squashed together with the legions of aliens - while the shrinking car population will be reserved only for the super rich;
Third, Singapore Inc of the future will be Hotel Singapore, playground and home of the jet setting upper caste, and not just from Northern India. We were once told if we have ownership of our HDB flats, we will have a stake to defend and bear arms for. Now we are mere jagas doing guard duty for the mansions and penthouses of the non-citizens.

At the same IPS conference, Lee confessed his team didn't have 20/20 foresight, just the myopia which led to the infrastructure strain of today. He asked, "Should we have said... Let's forget about the growth, we don't need the IRs (integrated  resorts), we don't need the extra jobs, we just stay where we were?" The answer is a "yes, yes, and yes". Ask your colorectal surgeon - if the growth is malignant, it's best to cut it off quickly. We can't afford to wait for another, "Next time, we will try to do better." Sheesh, to think the guy has been in office since 1984.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Perspective On Freedom Of Information

Punggol East voters and supporters of the victorious party are not the only ones walking around with a grin on their faces.

Responding to questions on the by-election outcome of Saturday January 26, Ng Eng Hen haughtily dismissed the notion that the result is a report card of the ruling party's performance. Ng said, "this is a by-election in just one constituency". Both Teo Chee Hean and Lee Hsien Loong also attributed the dribbling to the "by-election effect", the acclaimed Archilles heel which has brought down the juggernaut a second time.

Which is why Teo Ho Pin (MP, Bukit Panjang SMC) is also grinning from ear to ear. The Prime Minister may have called for a review of the Action Information Management (AIM) sweetheart deal, where a $140,000 transaction could be confabulated into a $30 million boondoggle - if the Deputy Director (Enterprise Software Group, NCS Pte Ltd) could be supponaed to testify about his key achievement with the Singapore Town Council.. Whatever the findings of the Ministry of National Development (MND) team charged with the investigative task, you can safely bet Teo will not be allowed to fall.  And trigger another dreaded by-election.

The wayang must continue. Yesterday, PM Lee gave a clue how the system is perpetuated when he told delegates at the Singapore Perspectives Conference organised by the Institute of Public Studies his view on Freedom of Information, "If you know that everything you write down is going to be made public, a lot of things are not going to be written down." Which is a really curious remark, considering that his father has written volumes about his version of Singapore history. Teo, himself, has written enough about AIM to be guillotined several times over.

The people taking over Punggol East, given Sylvia Lim's discoveries at Aljunied Hougang Town Council, should bring in forensic experts to go over the books. We are not talking about mangoes in the filing cabinets here, but airing of more nasty stuff that has not been written down for posterity.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Some Explanation Required

Aduentes Fortuna Juvat : “Fortune favors the brave.”
The Chinese characters (arrive) and (upside-down) are both pronounced "dao". During the Chinese New Year festive period, the character ("fu", literally meaning auspiciousness, blessing or happiness) is displayed inverted, so that fu dao ("reversed fu") also suggests luck or fortune has arrived.

Legend has it that Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋), the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), once planned to kill a family that had insulted his wife, Empress Ma (马皇后), and marked them with the character 福. In order to avoid bloodshed, the kind hearted Empress Ma ordered every family in the capital to paste the character 福 in front of their doors.

Everyone followed the empress' instruction, but one illiterate family had pasted the character upside down. When the emperor's soldiers went through the streets, they found the character pasted everywhere, including the one displayed upside down. The emperor was very angry to hear their report, and ordered his his soldiers to kill the family who had pasted the character in the wrong way.

Empress Ma saved the day with her quick-wit, "That family had known that you would be coming to visit them, so they pasted the character upside down intentionally. Doesn't that sound like "fu arrives" ? Upon hearing this, the emperor was appeased and a tragedy was averted.

Luck had nothing to do with the stunning victory at Punggol East, a margin of 3,182 votes or 10.8 per cent of valid votes is not something to be sniffed at. Lee Li Lian deserves the accolades for her hard work, covering every one of the HDB blocks in the ward with the help of volunteers and party members. And we are forever indebted to the courage of the Punggol East voters, who were not seduced by the temptations of the short term giveaways, and focused on the future of their children's generation. As for the big time loser, he should have listened to his wife's counsel, "You want to help people, but people don't want you".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Foreseeing Red

"Lee's steely micromanagement of the Lion
City brought out some of the worst in him."
TIME (4 Feb 2013 issue) has a feature article about the latest book on Lee, "Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World", a compilation of interviews by Harvard University professor Graham Allison et al. The writer encapsulates neatly the truth that his cronies will never admit:
"The stain on Lee's standing is that, in the controlled experiment of molding a society in his own severe image, he marginalized social liberties both sacred and mundane: from expressing dissent to chewing gum."

Westerners think he's the "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow", but we have seen how short sighted he can be. He may call North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a “flabby old chap” who craved public worship during a conversation with US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg in May 2009, but he should look at himself in the mirror once in a while. The chapter on China won't win him any new friends:

Q: Are Chinese leaders serious about displacing the U.S. as the No.1 power in Asia and, eventually, world?
A: Of course.
[Oh sugar! The Ah Tiongs have already demonstrated they can break a 26 year strike-free record, drive up resale prices of HDB flats, and zoom through red lights in excess of 200 kmph - do we need to encourage them further?]

Q: How will China's behavior toward other countries change if China becomes the dominant Asian power?
A: Will an industrialized and strong China be as benign to Southeast Asia as the U.S. since 1945? Singapore is not sure.  Neither is Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand or Vietnam.
[Since when was he appointed spokesman for Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand or Vietnam? Talk about foreigners interfering with local politics.]

Q: What is China's strategy for becoming No.1?
A: The Chinese have concluded that their best strategy is to build a strong and prosperous future, and use their huge and increasingly highly skilled and educated  workers to outsell and outbuild all others.
[Er, is that why the Ah Tiongs are dominating the businesses in Geylang and Chinatown?]

Q: What are the major hurdles in executing that strategy?
A: There will be enormous stresses because of the size of the country and the intractable nature of the problems: the poor infrastructure, the weak institutions, the wrong systems that they have installed.
[Our little red dot is much smaller, so how come we also have the poor infrastructure, the weak institutions, the wrong systems that have been installed? Think housing shortage, train breakdowns, $2 companies and Town Councils that invest public money in toxic financial, and now software, instruments?]

Q: How should one assess new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping?
A: He has had a tougher life than Hu Jintao. His father was rusticated, and so was he. He took it in stride, and worked his way up. It has not been smooth sailing for him.
[Enough of this humble origins crap already. The ikan kuning for 8 was already difficult to swallow; next he will tell us the colorectal surgeon had to partake mee siam without cockles.]

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Good Old Days

Low Thia Khiang's mention of old versus new PAP rekindled thoughts of nostalgia about the good old days.

Drool. The Certificate of Entitlement was not invented yet.

Hon Sui Sen would develop Jurong Industrial Estate for 300 factories to employ 21,000 people, all Singaporeans.

In the company of real NSmen, not foreign imports who profess to serve "by saving babies' lives".

Giving the kids a leg up in politics, tips from Prince Norodom Sihanouk on living like royalty.

Attending election rally at Potong Pasir to get a feel of the ground. Note absence of the ubiquitous security officers (SOs).

With handpicked elites to run the country. One let someone run away to Malaysia, the other ran away to Hongkong after losing a election.

Grooming friendships across the Causeway. The Tunku was the one who turfed us out of Malaysia.

Eager to learn from Deng Xiaoping, the guy who gave us TianAnMen.

President Suharto was special pal of several decades. What's a couple of billions between friends?

Boiling Over

How does that headline grab ya? How do you expect the alternate political parties to respond to that? On "Cooling-Off" day? That's the stuff that makes your blood boil.

There are some exceptions to the prohibition of campaign activities on Cooling-off Day, a disingenuous invention to trip the opposition like the notorious clause about material change in the Town Council software deal set up by Teo Ho Pin et al. Last and No.6 in the list of permissibles is "Such activities or circumstances as may be prescribed by the Minister." That's how mockery is made of the democratic process.

Red Bull must be the choice of drink for the speakers at last night's by-election rally for the party in power. B-S is defined by Urban Dictionary as stuff that is made up for the purpose of placating someone, or passing an exam, or getting elected to office. Most often false or ridiculous.

When Sylvia Lim talked about closing her eyes at a traffic junction, and the alien voices around her made her feel like she was in a strange country, many netizens responded by saying they experienced same with eyes wide open at their place of work. A Canadian friend visiting thought they landed at the wrong airport. If one in three you come across on the streets of Singapore is a foreigner, it makes you wonder who is really on the side of Singaporeans. Born and bred, the national service serving types.

"We are honest when it comes to talking about issues, we are honest when it comes to ourselves," said their keynote speaker. How about being honest when it comes to Singaporeans? Enough of the fishy stories about $11.50 in the joint account, or sharing 1 ikan kuning with 8 family members. They only serve to remind us what Low Thia Khiang said, that the present PAP is a shadow of what the past was like:
"年纪比较大的,关心政治的国人就会知道,现在的 PAP 和以前的 PAP 不一样了。他们告诉我,PAP 政府现在什么都讲钱,斤斤计较,平时与民争利,大选时就以各种利益引诱选民,使新加坡成为一个高度自私与功利主义的社会。PAP 政府只有在大选的时候才跟你讲人情。"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

They Didn't Listen

Debunking Teo Chee Hean's Facebook post about the Workers' Party (WP) staying silent on important issues, WP's Low Thia Khiang told the thousands gathered: It is not true WP has not taken a position on major issues, it is the People's Action Party (PAP) Government that has turned a deaf ear to its views and suggestions. To which we may add, and the views and suggestions of Singaporeans island wide. Refreshing Teo's glitchy memory banks, Low  pointed out he had spoken on the foreign worker issue during the Manpower Ministry's Committee of Supply debate, and  a whole chapter in the WP's 2011 party manifesto is devoted to population and immigration.

One illustration of deaf ears was the point of concern raised by Low in Parliament in 2010, to ensure  wet markets and hawker centers continue to provide low cost market produce and food options for citizens. He had urged the government to stop the new trend of releasing land for tender by private developers and instead let NEA continue operating markets and food centres. The Minister's cavalier response: “the Government sets aside land in the new towns for commercial development by the private sector. This gives private operators the flexibility to decide on the type of eating and marketing facilities to meet the changing needs of residents.” Now that's a lesson in selective listening.

One PAP stalwart apparently does not even listen to himself if the truth was unpalatable. Ajunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) chairperson Sylvia Lim read out Teo Ho Pin's December statement for the benefit of the many listening ears assembled at WP's last by-election rally at Punggol East,  “After GE2011, the software contract with AIM remained in place for the PAP TCs. However, AIM decided to end the contract with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC).”

It was the PAP HQ which issued the earlier rejoinder on the AIM saga on behalf of Teo, probably determined to protect his nether orifice from probed now that the Prime Minister has called for a review of the conundrum. It is quite obvious Teo is not the only one in dire need to be fitted with a hearing aid. Ms Lim could not resist a dig at Teo's selective recall, “So, I don’t know what Dr Teo is trying to say.”

Even the colorectal surgeon has turned deaf to his earlier vociferous boast of running his own campaign. By one count, at least six more members of parliament (MPs) are making nuisance of themselves, knocking on doors and disturbing the peace and quiet of Punggol residents. This is on top of the eight other MPs distributing junk mail on Tuesday. Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC) saw it as "a  waste of energies if we're just around sitting and doing nothing." Double confirmed, except during elections, that bunch was "just around sitting and doing nothing."

No Smoke Without Fire

The above screen capture from LinkedIn is either a red herring or a smoking gun. Recall Teo Ho Pin's 26 paragraph exposition on the Action Information Management (AIM) involvement makes no mention of multi-million dollar investment by Town Councils, or $5 million software licenses. The numbers he bantered about were a $140,000 "existing software IP" purchase by a $2 company, and $785 per month lease back arrangement. Maybe the millions involved were contractual obligations protected by "confidential" clauses, as in the Formula One race extension deal.

There must be many "Deep Throats" in the civil service, directly or indirectly associated with Town Councils, who can enlighten us on the real deal. Unfortunately most of them live in fear of the Official Secrets Act 1970 (OSA).

Based on the eponymous British legislation, the Act prohibits any act which is defined as "prejudicial to the safety or interests of Singapore" and the communication of any information or document by any person holding any government office to another person not specifically authorised to receive it. A person suspected of committing an offence under this act may be arrested without warrant. The Act also allows the president to confer the powers of a police officer on any person for the purposes of this Act.

In one memorable interview by author Ross Worthington to test the limits of the OSA, he asked one senior official whether latter could divulge the colour of the toilet paper used by the particular ministry. The official replied with a straight face that it was impossible as it would infringe the act. When it was pointed out to the official the information could be gained by any visitor using one of the toilets in the ministry's buildings, the official maintained that while that was so, nonetheless he could not divulge the information. (Governance In Singapore, page 137)

At the Workers Party by-election rally on Tuesday night, Sylvia Lim called her Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) experience "eye-opening", noting that it was the first time an opposition party had been able to dig into documents showing how the PAP town councils have been managing Housing Board estates, and coming across aspects that show how political town management had become. Surely that's reason enough to vote more alternate party members into parliament to do more digging.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baby Bonus Signals

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) falls on February 10. Yet the Baby ang pows are distributed one month ahead. A sharp reporter queried Teo Chee Hean about the timing effect for Punggol East voters. You bet the Pinocchio nose extended by at least another inch when he replied that the by-election was "not a factor in consideration".

Pork barrel politics aside, there is this question about the extra $400 million spending for pro-family measures, a jump from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. The number presumably is derived from several components:
Housing Priority - no real cash, just a change in the queue position;
Medical Costs - subsidies for fertility treatment upped from 50 to 75 percent, capped at $6,300. It's no big deal if the subsidies are defined per the NKF model;
Baby Bonus  - real cash incentive, upped $2,000 for first ($6,000) and second child ($8,000). The $3,000 for each newborn is locked up in Medisave;
Work-life Balance - child-care leave, adoption leave, maternity leave pay-in-lieu are benefits not clearly monetized, the cash equivalents are hard to pin down;
Paternity Leave - ditto, this item is almost impossible to assign a dollar value to, especially when the Gini coefficient has edged higher to 0.473.

At the end of the day, no one knows if the $400 million will be fully dispensed. Even if it is, the sum pales in comparison with the $1.1 billion gifted to a private bus company. Don't look now, but the air force is eying the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which costs as much as US$160 million a plane.

Teo said, "It's not really the amount of money that's important but the kind of signals we're sending." We read the signals alright, like when the Budget presentation is scheduled on 25 February, after the by-election is over. Only then will we know the bill for the goodies.

When an obviously pregnant Australian tourist was spotted queuing up at one of our food courts, we had to pop her the question. Yes, she said, all deliveries at public hospitals in her country are free of charge, you only pay if you opt for private. ST Writer Aaron Low ("Cash is no magic bullet") went further and asked, "Why not just make child care free?". Per capita GDP of Australia is US$40,800. Per capita GDP of Singapore is US$60,500. What kind of signals did they say they are sending?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From Dragon To Snake

The year of the Snake is coming.
Last year's dragon,
Becomes this year's snake,
Missing horns, missing claws,
But fangs are still there.

Above remarks by Chen Show Mao at the Workers' Party rally remind us that the knuckle dusters are still in play, disguised only by the velvet gloves made necessary by the exigencies of the election hustings. Leopards rarely change their spots.

When A P Rajah once complained in the Legislative Assembly that the Prime Minister was claiming to play all his cards openly but he had put them face downwards, Lee Kuan Yew retorted, "Only fools place all their  cards face upwards!" (Singapore Legislative Assembly Debates, 11 December 1959)

Vincent Wijeysingha had apologised to Tan Chuan-Jin unreservedly for describing the latter as “dishonest”, “deceptive”, “untruthful” over the complaints and issues involving the striking SMRT drivers. The last report on the subject has it that Tan was seeking damages from Wijeysingha. We'll have to wait until the by-election is over to see if the fangs will be bared.

If Tan does follow up with his demand for financial satisfaction, he is not inventing something new. More senior party members have threatened critics with expensive lawsuits for defamation in the past, establishing a legacy that human rights groups see as a tactic to stifle dissent. Lee Kuan Yew set the tone years ago by suing political foes and foreign media organisations. "We decide what is right," he told the Straits Times newspaper in 1987. "Never mind what the people think."

Human Rights Watch's deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, has been quoted saying, "The jury is still out on whether we're seeing a sustainable change in government attitudes towards their critics."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Haste Makes Waste

Tense face-off between campaign manager and candidate
Julianne Moore won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Miniseries "Game Change", by portraying Sarah Palin in the HBO movie. It is hard not to miss the message that Woody Harrelson, as campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, laid much blame about the disastrous CBS Katie Couric interview on the lack of vetting and preparation of the candidate.

When Palin progressed to blatant lies about Troopergate, it was the absolute pits. The electorate may never get to know the whole truth. Just recall how long it took to unveil the shenanigans of AIMgate.

Prime Minister Lee said the colorectal surgeon will be more than a member of parliament (MP), just like Lee Kuan Yew said of Wong Kan Seng at the 1984 General Election. Wong was swiftly made minister of state immediately after that election, and then full minister. We don't know how long Wong was vetted, but 3 weeks before official announcement of the Punggol East by-election in the case of the rectum specialist gives you an idea how haste is likely to make waste. The nation had to be embarrassed by the Mas Selamat debacle of 2008 before the guy could be told, "You have been weighed, measured and found wanting".

The other medical professional in the cabinet started his long march in politics by riding roughshod over university dons who wrote that more new jobs went to foreigners than to Singaporeans. The truth was confirmed years later when our own fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters lost their jobs to the alien faces. That fellow also had a private practice in Mt Elizabeth Hospital as surgical oncologist, has been in office since 2001, made full minister in August 2004, and collected millions along the way. Can you recall one contribution that has made the lives of Singaporeans better?

And then there was Michael Palmer, brought in as part of the group born after 1965, a.k.a. P65. His political epiphany was discovering that there are poor people in developed countries. Was he properly vetted too?

Speaking in Mandarin at last Saturday rally, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang reminded us that the incumbents need to have spurs stuck into them if our lives are to be improved. The English version of his speech missed out on the powerful message:
(Google Translate: You want the PAP government to do more, to do better? You should use the vote in your hand, so that they really work harder.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oscar Fever

Animator Nickson Fong won Singapore's first Academy Award for his "Pose Space Deformation" technique which was used in "Avatar". The Technical Achievement Award was for his creation that makes 3-D animated characters more life-like, and has been widely adapted in the film industry. It's not the Oscar, but the innovation will be honoured  at the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards in Hollywood.

For a shot at the real Oscar, the following script writing, in the fantasy category, deserves top mention:

Friday, January 18, 2013


Lawless is a great movie (starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf) that did not make it to  the Oscar list. Set in the Age of Prohibition during the American depression, it raised the spectre of law enforcers who warped a system of justice beyond recognition. With M Ravi dropping his lawsuit against the Law Society, we'll never know whether a travesty of justice took place.

In July 2012 Law Society official Wong Siew Hong had charged into court like a bull in a china shop, waving a suspicious letter from another questionable doctor, psychiatrist Calvin Fones, about the mental health of a practising solicitor. Justice Philip Pillai rightly admonished him, "How is it you have the audacity to come and turn up in court when you don't even have an application?" The Supreme Court Judge was retired on 12 December 2012 at age 65. All the talk of pushing back the retirement age is apparently not applicable in this case.

How did the Law Society end up in this sorry state? Way back in 1986, during the hearings of the Select Committee on the Legal Profession Amendment Bill, Lee Kuan Yew made this threat to the Law Society:
"It is my job as prime minister in charge of the government to put a stop to politicking in professional bodies. If you want to politick, come out...  You want to politick, you form your own party or join Mr (JB) Jeyaratnam... You think you can be smarter than the government and outsmart it, well, if you win, you form the government.  If I win, we have a new law Society.  It is as simple as that." (Cited in Daniel Bell, "Dissent Reassuring", Sunday Morning Post, 11 July 1999)

We know who won. Until 1986, the Law Society was required to comment on legislation. The Singapore Academy of Law, of which Lee, his wife and Goh Chok Tong's wife were members, a statutory body to control the entire legal profession, was subsequently set up in 1988 under the Singapore Academy of Law Act. In November 1995, the Singapore of Academy Act was amended to remove any remote possibility of the Law Society being involved in political issues or advising in any substantive way on the development of the law. With the lawyers out of the way, it looks like the future is being relegated to anal medical professionals.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

And Then There Were Four

Before nomination day, he was like, "I'm my own man. I run my own campaign". After nomination day, he's visibly propped up from the behind by - and this is the fun part - the "keechiu" general, the "whaddya think" guy, and the weird Michael Palmer pal who likes to hear his own name yelled out in triplicate at political rallies.

Flanked by ex-rear admiral Teo Chee Hean, architect of the Hougang rout, the colorectal doctor said, "My strategy is the same: listen more, empathise more, interact more." Same of what? The doc doesn't exactly have much of a track record to recall. Dr Francis Seow-Choen, of the same Fortis Colorectal Hospital, said  Koh told his colleagues "about three weeks to a month back" that he had been called up by the Prime Minister  for a "tea session". Someone should read the tea leaves in that cup.

Support will definitely be forthcoming from other traditional sources too. Look out for extra traffic wardens posted at carparks adjacent to opposition party rally sites. Parking lots will be mysteriously "reserved", but the signs will not indicate for who or for what.  Squads of mobile policemen will be at their vigilant best, ever ready to book the slightest parking infringement. Don't expect the opposition party MPs to accomplish what MP Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) did, which was to ask the officer to "apply a light touch and not issue any summons". Even if, as LTA claims, "the vehicles were parked in an orderly manner and did not cause any obstructions."

Relax. The people who attend opposition parties are extra nice.  There's a perceptible gotong-royong spirit in the air. Looking after each other's backs. Extend to you the shade of their umbrella, offer a sitting space on their ground sheets. During those magic moments, you get a glimpse of what a caring society Singapore could be like. Without those invasive foreign elements, and rid of those posturing politicians in white.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Improving The Odds

So did the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) withdraw from the by-election because, as claimed by SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, "Singaporeans have signalled clearly that they do not want a multi-corner fight in Punggol East which may dilute the votes and allow the PAP to win"? Or did the SDP central executive committee (CEC) over rule it's pugnacious boss? Unleashed by the surprise discharge of his bankruptcy shackles, Chee must be anxious to do battle with his nemesis in parliament, while the latter is still standing on his wobbly feet.

The exchange of words in the House is supposed to be protected by parliamentary privilege. Without being turned into magnets for lawyers' letters of demand.

Mr Pritam Singh's (Aljunied GRC) parliamentary question on Monday, about Singapore's decision to abstain from a United Nations vote to upgrade Palestine status to a non-member observer state, was ignored by Foreign Minister Shanmugam. Instead, latter has issued a written reply, to challenge Mr Singh to state that a change in Singapore's position would make the country more secure. Making clear his pugnative stance, Shanmugam threatened to "take serious note if it was indeed the Aljunied MP's view". When the school bully asks you to meet you outside the class, should you respond?

Words spoken in the course of parliamentary proceedings are privileged, that is, immune from any action in the courts. This privilege allows Members to speak freely and frankly without fear of legal consequences, according to the Parliamentary Glossary on the website.

Dr Chee will have to wait a while before he get to test his oratory skills in parliament. Hopefully, the rules would not be changed by then. The 60.1 percent may be appreciate this: by giving the ruling party the "mandate", they are also providing carte blanche, the legal right to change the rules as they see fit. That's why the Punggol East by-election is important.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Art Of The Deal

We know the opposition can be fixed, but has that dastardly political practice metastasized to the legal system too?

When Ms Darinne Ko was seen escorted to court by Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) staff, it was a clear signal a deal was set in place. Ms Cecilia Sue had set the precedent, her special arrangement was with CPIB Deputy Director Teng Khee Fatt. Like Ms Sue, Ko is now accused of deviating her court testimony from her recorded statements, and threatened with impeachment. The Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy has a hostile witness on his hands.

That's a person who, in the court's opinion, gives adverse testimony or displays hostility or prejudice against the party which called him or her to testify. Another variant of this is the adverse witness, a person who intentionally gives unfavorable evidence against the party that called him or her as its key witness. The calling party (i.e. the public prosecutor) may cross-examine a hostile witness as if she was called by the opposing party. A hostile witness may be impeached by discrediting his or her credibility.

Corruption has many facets
Since Ms Ko is a trained lawyer, she must have her professional reasons for the switcheroo. It must have crossed her mind that the law which can fix her law professor Tey Tsun Hang could just as easily have her fixed too. Her mother had asked nicely if they should engage a lawyer when she was first picked up for questioning at the crack of dawn. The rude response: "If she wanted everyone to know what was going on, she could go ahead to get a lawyer" - a not too subtle reminder of the threat to drag out the Central Narcotics Bureau chief corruption case if co-operation was not forthcoming. And then there was the offer that could not be refused - an obvious rip-off from Mario Puzo's "The Godfather". Revealing details of her interrogation, Ms Ko disclosed that she was told by Deputy Director Teng (same guy who had 4 hours of private time with Ms Sue in his office) that his officers had informed him she had not been "cooperative". Specifically, Teng said that the evidence that Ms Ko gave was not "making the element of the charge" against Tey.

Those of you who are trained in law are the better judge whether these backroom deals are kosher. For us laymen, they sure as hell don't pass the smell test.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Literary Licence

Prices of property stocks are expected to tumble down significantly after the latest dose of cooling measures to tone down the real estate market. The good news is that sales of dictionaries will be heading upwards in the opposite direction, as the rush is on to nail down the definition of "survey" and "poll".

Thanks to a sharp-eyed netizen, we now know that when the Straits Times (ST) published a report on how they surveyed 50 Punggol East residents to gage which party they will be  supporting in the coming by-election - and printed the results of the poll on Thursday - they broke the law. Penalty: A fine not exceeding $1,500 or jail time not exceeding 12 months. Or both.

ST Editor Warren Fernandez, co-author of "Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas" and other English literary contributions, tried to define the journalistic exercise as a an effort "to get a sense tof the ground for our election reports". He blamed the headline for "overstating the significance of the information gathered by calling it a poll."  The Free Online Dictionary says that a survey is "A gathering of a sample of data or opinions considered to be representative of a whole." We don't really have to split hairs on this one.

"But the way I look at it is that there is no better way for people to know me without understanding where I come from, where I started, because this is me." Those were the words of the colorectal surgeon standing for election to parliament - whose sob story about taking public transport has just been updated to proud ownership of two cars -  but could be easily applicable to Fernandez, if you are apprised of his career route to editorship of the official mouthpiece of the state apparatus.

And if you are that well informed, you will also know the "police investigating the case" probably have results of their findings well prepared in advance. During the General Election in 2011, ST also published the results of a poll it conducted at Aljunied to gage who the residents will vote for, also on a day after Nomination Day. The punishment meted out? The paper was advised by the Elections Department not to publish any more polls or surveys during the election period. Even the model answer has been provided for a priori.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stretching The Truth

The first thing of note about the colorectal surgeon as candidate is that he collected his membership card only three weeks before the by-election was called on 9 Jan 2013. Which means that when Michael Palmer was doomed by incriminating evidence on 8 Dec 2012, he may not have been an official member of the political party he's supposed to represent at Punggol.

No one has to apologize for one's humble origins. Many who started off financially challenged have learned to be prudent with spending, especially when spending other people's money. On the other hand, some have been driven to other extremes, making up for lost time in profligate expenditures. It has been written that Imelda Marcos' obscene obsession with her shoe collection is traceable to her being dirt poor at childhood.

Maybe there was a mistake in the decimal point, but it is hard to believe that two young medical graduates starting up home with their first housing board flat had only $11.50 in their joint account. While they were scratching their heads worrying about scrounging for their first meal, it makes you wonder how they managed the deposit for the utilities. No money means no water or electricity. You can't hold your bowels just because you can't flush - that should contribute to colorectal problems later on down the road. There must be a shaggy dog story in there somewhere, but the telling leaves much to be desired.

There was a true story once about a man with only $10 in his pocket. He gave it to his son before jumping into the MRT tracks. He did not benefit from the meritocracy which is supposed to be the salve for the real impoverished.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hear Only The Good Stuff

The Prime Minister has issued a press statement on the Punggol East by-election; barring further adverse developments and unforeseen circumstances, Polling Day will be held on Jan 26.

What he said:

1. After Mr Michael Palmer resigned on 12 Dec 2012 as Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP) for Punggol East constituency, my first priority was to look after the residents of Punggol East. Minister of State/Mayor Teo Ser Luck has been overseeing the constituency, while Mr Zainal Sapari has been chairing the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. DPM Teo Chee Hean has also taken a personal interest in the residents' welfare.
What we heard: Three guys to do the job of one, still cannot manage - maybe their pay can be reduced further;

What he said:
2. We have a busy national agenda this year. The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament. Budget 2013 is around the corner. The Our Singapore Conversation is translating the views of citizens into programmes to improve our lives. Sustaining economic growth and raising workers' incomes is a continuing preoccupation, especially in a weak global economy.
What we heard: The people will be upset when the economy really tanks - they can tweak the numbers to avoid another technical recession only so many times - better get on the by-election while the sun is still shining;

What he said:
3. I have decided to hold a by-election in Punggol East to give the residents their own MP in Parliament, before we focus back on these national issues. So today I advised the President to issue the Writ of Election.
What we heard: Them national issues never seem to go away, might as well bite the bullet before another skeleton is unearthed;

What he said:
4. I hope Punggol East residents will vote for the candidate who can best represent them in Parliament, solve their problems and improve their lives.
What we heard: Finally, we get to elect someone who will voice our problems in parliament and improve our lives. Maybe. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

He Blinked

Maybe not.

The Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of National Development (MND) to review the controversial sale of a publicly funded software to a private politically linked entity "in the interest of transparency". It would be awkward to call in the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) as a blogger has already been threatened with a law suit for alleging corruption. The Auditor General is probably too busy with the passing of batons from outgoing Mr Lim Soo Ping, 62, to incoming Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng, 57.

MND was involved when parliament was told in 2008 that 8 Town Councils (TC) had used $16 million of their sinking funds to buy toxic financial products from Lehman Brothers. MND then was tasked to come up  with a report to assess TCs' management of estates and funds. The stupid report ended up as a whipping boy to make the opposition wards look bad. Well, maybe not so stupid, it also opened up the Pandora's box that is the AIM scandal. It remains to be seen if MND's deputy secretary Tay and permanent secretary Lim will come up with something better.

The Prime Minister pointed out that none of the external auditors raised the sale as an issue. Well,  Arthur Andersen also never raised their hands ("keechiu!") either when they were auditing Enron Corporation. Still, CEO Kenneth Lay was convicted of all 6 counts of securities and wire fraud. Enron had used special purpose entities (SPE) - limited partnerships or companies created to fulfill a temporary or specific purpose - which are found in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), the accounting industry's standards. According to McLean and Elkind in their book The Smartest Guys in the Room, "The Enron scandal grew out of a steady accumulation of habits and values and actions that began years before and finally spiraled out of control."

Enron's complex business model and unethical practices brought about its own downfall. A $2 company is a  perfectly legitimate business model, it's the moral hazard that is the critical issue at hand. Moral hazard occurs whenever a party with more information about its actions or intentions demonstrates a tendency or incentive to behave inappropriately from the perspective of the party with less information.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Try The Other Side

In indoor bowling, the objective of the game is to roll or throw a ball to knock over pins. A strike is the term used when all 10 pins are completely knocked down with the first ball. On score sheets, a strike is symbolized by an X. The trick is aiming at the pin which will knock down all the others. Is Teo Ho Pin the critter who will bring the whole house down?

Take a look at some of the other falling pins:
Chandra Das: "as a PAP company, we wanted to be helpful to the PAP town councils";
Grace Fu: "town councils were set up to give elected representatives of political parties more say in managing their estates";
Baey Yam Keng: "we cannot forget that TCs are all political organisations"
And let's not forget those who'd rather let their lawyers speak for them.

What we see unfolding was actually foretold by Lee Kuan Yew in "Hard Truths" (page 68):
"There will come a time when eventually the public will say, look, let's try the other side, either because the PAP has declined in quality or the opposition has put up a team which is equal to the PAP and they say, let's try the other side. That day will come."

He goes further to postulate how it can happen. A break-up in leadership. They disagree profoundly, either for reasons of principle or personality and suddenly it breaks up. Not sure if Tan Cheng Bok's very public disagreement ("Is it right for the TCs to give up ownership in this manner?") counts, since he is an ex-PAP member of parliament.

The team may be in place, Lee said, but a leader is needed. A real leader. Someone who can communicate, who can mobilise people, move people.  It's not enough to have good policies. "You've got to convince people," he emphasised, "That's one reason I am making fewer speeches."

Truth be told, we really wish the old guy will pipe up soon. The other fellas open their mouths and shoot themselves in the foot. Not a very pretty picture, not pretty at all.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Speaking Plainly

chao /chow, tʃaʊ/ a. [Hk. 臭] is Chinese for dirty, foul, smelly, stinking; detestable, disgusting, unwelcome.
Used in combination,
chao kuan /kooahn, kʊɑːn/ a. [Hk. 款 kuan] means not playing fair, stacking the odds in its own favour.

For instance, the full text of the Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) letter dated June 10, 2011 clearly indicates:
"We would like to inform you that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council is in the process of developing a Town Council Management System to support its operations effectively.
We would like to thank AIM for the assistance rendered to us in preparing the migration of database to the new system.
The new system is targeted to go live on 1 August 2011. While the new system goes live, we are planning to have the AIMS-TCMS (Financial Module) running concurrently till 31 August 2011, so as to ascertain the reliability of the new system.
As such, we would like to put up a request to continue to use the AIMS-TCMS till 31 August 2011, for your favourable consideration please."

The smoking bit in Action Information Management (AIM)'s ungracious response dated June 22, 2011, as supplied by AIM, is highlighted:
"We hereby give notice in accordance with Clause 9.3 of the Conditions of the above Contract that, owing to material changes to the membership of the Town Council, we will cease to allow Aljunied Town Council the use of the intellectual property and system functions relating to the developed application software currently used by the Town Council after a period of at least one month from the date of this notice.
The provision of the developed application software will therefore be terminated with effect from 1 August 2011."

It is clear as day AIM had no intention of acceding to AHTC's simple request for a one month period to ascertain the reliability of the new system. That's chao kuan in action.

In the rebuttal to Teo Ho Pin's long winded yarn of obfuscation and denials dated 2 Jan 2013 on the sale of the developed software formerly owned by the PAP-managed Town Councils to AIM in 2011, AHTC's Sylvia Lim's succinct summary speaks volumes:
First, that the PAP-managed Town Councils sold off the computer and financial systems developed with public monies to a vehicle of the PAP, just prior to the General Election;
Second, according to the most recent statement of Mr Chandra Das, AIM's Chairman, AIM "as a PAP company" wanted to "be helpful to the PAP Town Councils", and;
Third, that the PAP sees no issue with an arrangement allowing them to terminate the software agreements with any Town Council with one month's notice if there is a material change in the Town Council's membership. 

No need to call in Queen's Counsels to query the obvious; enough of taxpayers' time and money have been wasted on the pissing contest. To quote Ms Lim's Parthian shot: "We leave it to the public to make their own judgment." Touché.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Season Of Apologies

On Friday, 4 January 2013, lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong advised blogger Alex Au that comments on his post ("PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback") defamed Lee by various allegations of corruption on his part in relation to the transaction between the PAP Town Councils and Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) and "will abuse his powers to cover up the matter or prevent any investigation into his corruption".  Because Au moderated the comments, the lawyers argued, it meant that he “subscribe to and endorse” the views expressed by those comments". Au has since removed the post and undertook "not to make any further allegations to the same or similar effect".

On following Saturday morning, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) treasurer Dr Wijeysingha put up a post on the Facebook social networking site to "apologise unreservedly" to Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin for supposedly defamatory allegations that are "wholly untrue and false". It referred to the December 2 note on the illegal SMRT Chinese bus drivers strike where, it was alleged, he insinuated Tan had been either dishonest or deceptive in his handling of the issue.

It looks like that 2013 might be a replay of 2012, same old, same old:
circa February 2012 -
Law Minister Shanmugam wanted removed a post allegedly containing defamatory comments about the minister's personal conduct;
circa February 2012 -
PM Lee wanted retracted a post that had, amongst other things, questioned wife Ho Ching's position in Temasek Holdings;
circa July 2012 -
A post alleging that plastic surgeon Woffles Wu received special treatment over a speeding offence was deemed to be in contempt of court, and the article was removed;
circa November 2012 -
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen asked for an apology over a allegedly defamatory post concerning a National Service disruption list that Ng  promised to make public. Ng's lawyers rejected the first apology which was deemed "not sincere or unqualified".

For the latest salvo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, in a post on her Facebook page, has written that that "taking aim at AIM misses a fundamental point - the management of AHTC". By implication, fair or foul, she is alleging Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) Chairman Sylvia Lim erred by explaining the fault (getting a "red band" for its collection of Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) in the report card on town councils) is not theirs, but the PAP's, which terminated the financial systems provided by AIM. Gentlemen (or ladies), prime your (legal) engines....

Surely there are better ways to get one's 5 minutes of fame - or infamy, if you prefer - than trading allegations. Whatever happened to good old fashioned debate?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Now We Know

So her name is Chantelle.

The cyber sleuths were spot on. In unmasking the man behind the online vice ring, the mainstream media confirmed the identity of the under aged slut who "went by the online moniker of Chantelle".

The real news is that Tang made only $185,000 in two years with his stable of 17 women. The vice-operators and their girls at designated redlight areas (DRA) like Geylang must be shocked. They don't get to charge rates like $350 to 2,800 for a booking. Either Tang was a real slacker, or the Geylang pimps have been working their charges too hard to turbo-charge the economy. Yes, Virginia, prostitution is legal in Singapore, and contributes to the national GDP growth.

The other shocker is that Tang had held "respectable" day-jobs. After graduating from Hull University, he was a strategic planner with Shell, manager at Motorola, general manager at Virgin Mobile, and divisional head for Yahoo! South East Asia. Apparently none of those appointments netted more than $100,000 a year. The court revealed that Tang had over 700 bookings for escorts alone - hookers charge extra. Like the accounting at Chandra Das' AIM, the math don't add up. Maybe the street smart girls fleeced the UK university trained graduate, using layers of middle men and the like.

Bottom line, the moral of the story is that if you want a side income to supplement your day job, there are better alternatives. Like getting into parliament via a GRC. Heck, guys like Baey and Foo don't even need the day job no more, their MP allowances are much more lucrative. And even when they finally decide to retire from politics, there's the string of directorships to look forward to. The Japanese have a special term for these "retirement jobs". Amakudari (天下り , literally “descent from heaven”) is the institutionalised practice where Japanese senior bureaucrats retire to high-profile positions in the private and public sectors. Just ask George Yeo, Raymond Lim, etc.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Magic With Numbers

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday analysts were telling us the economy may have slipped into a technical recession - two successive quarters of contraction - since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said on Monday GDP rose a mere 1.2 percent for the full year, way below the government's forecast of around 1.5 percent.

Today the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is saying the economy expanded by 1.8 percent in the December quarter, reversing a 6.3 percent contraction in the July-September period. Maybe MTI is hinting to us the PM Lee can't read the statistics submitted to him, or can't add, subtract or divide without an expensive calculator.  After all, those fancy degrees from Cambridge were just pieces of paper issued decades ago. Someone should check the expiry dates.

OCBC Economist Selena Ling said, "The Singapore economy escaped a technical recession, probably the skin of its teeth as both third and second quarter growth data were revised lower." Can they actually do that? Simply change the numbers if they don't look good enough to justify a GDP bonus?

Let's imagine what happened. A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same MTI job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and ask,s "What does two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies, "Four." The interviewer asks, "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says, "Yes, four, exactly."
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question: "What does two plus two equal?" The accountant says, "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four."
Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question, "What does two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, "What do you want it to equal"?

Chandra Das may not be much of an economist, but he seems just as deft with numbers. Blatantly ignoring the fact that AIM was a dormant company with $2 in the kitty as paid up capital, he wants us to tell us this whopper: "AIM has been in business for 20 years. It has got cash and it paid the $140,000 in cash." What do you want to believe?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Recalling Good Events

On New Year’s Eve, ESM Goh Chok Tong blogged that he can’t recall any good events in 2012, "I cannot instantly think of good events to recall, not that they were none but that they were overwhelmed by the bad news." Goh must have been reminiscing about his last positive experience, when he "had a good conversation" with Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The first individual Olympic medal clinched by Singapore since the 1960 Rome Olympics should have been something to shout about, except that some of the metal clinched in London is heading back to China. So what's there to cheer up the people Gallup polled "least likely worldwide to report feeling positive emotions"?

The man-made mechanical forest of 18 super trees towering up to 50 meters high in the Bay South garden was finally opened to the public on June 29. Project organizers are hoping the completed Gardens by the Bay will become an eco-tourist destination showcasing sustainable practices and plants from across the globe. The estimated $1 billion undertaking was launched 7 years ago by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally.

Two pandas from China, Jia Jia and Kai Kai, were welcomed to their new home at River Safari in September, a 1,500-square-metre lush and green oasis custom built for their comfort at a reputed $8.6 million. Chairman of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Claire Chiang, was coy about the cost of the annual upkeep and who's picking up the bill, estimated at $1 million for each of their 10 years' paid holiday in Singapore.

Singapore's motorsports industry welcomed the contract renewal of the Singapore Formula One race for another five years. Who cares about the disruption to business when the area goes into lockdown for the three-day extravagance? Apparently not Iswaran, who has yet to present a report card for the economics of the past events, and refused to release the latest financial commitment on grounds of "commercial confidentiality." The cost of each of 5 more races is about $150 million, with the government co-funding 60 percent of the amount.

Madam Tan the 66 year old cleaner was not so enthusiastic about the good news in July from National Trades Union Congress (NTUC),  recommending a pay hike of $50 to workers earning less than $1,000. If she accepted the $50 increase offered by her employer, her rent would have gone up from $26 to $111, "I'm thankful that the authorities are giving this increase but I'll be $35 worse off ". Needless to say, Madam Tan can hardly afford the entrance charges to view the super trees, pandas and formula one cars.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Resolutions

In his New Year Message, Mr Lee vows to run a clean and good government, by "investigating wrongdoings thoroughly and dealing with them decisively and openly". That's as good a new year resolution as any.

Especially when the cut-and-dried case of the foldable bikes episode is yet to be concluded. Are they waiting, as in the City Harvest legal proceedings, for a Queen's Counsel to be approved?

Mr Lee also referred to "lapses by persons in senior positions", which the press take to mean Monday night intercourse hosted by the Speaker of the House. When he should be taking aim at the intellectual property for cash swap between Teo Ho Pin and Chandra Das.

Fast recap. Software developed by NCS (previously known as National Computer Systems) charged to Town Councils. Sold for a song to Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM). NCS subsequently bills AIM for maintenance of the same software, and AIM bills Town Councils for same - presumably with a middle man's mark-up buried somewhere, of course. Sounds a wee bit like the "round tripping" accounting sleight of hand City Harvest folks are charged with, doesn't it? Except that the money involved in the merry go round is not from willing contributors but squeezed out of the constituents under the guise of Service and Conservancy Charges. Constituents who are regularly threatened with a $1000 fine for a late payment of $100.

Confucius said: "A gentleman must guard himself against three dangers. When young, as the energy of the blood is still in turmoil, he should guard against lust. In his maturity, as the energy of the blood is at his full, he should guard against rage. In old age, as the energy of the blood is on the wane, he should guard against rapacity." (Simon Leys, The Analects, 16.7, p. 82)

That's rapacity as defined as "the state or quality of being excessively greedy or given to theft".