Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Call Me Crazy

With an election expected this year, and the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) problems with the housing and employment issues in Singapore, this look like an election where the opposition parties of Singapore have a chance to score some gains.

As expected, a spat had erupted among the opposition parties. Member of Parliament, Mr. Chiam See Tong, had long had a problem with current Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretary- general Dr. Chee Soon Juan.

Mr. Chiam was reportedly forced out of his previous party, the SDP, in 1993 but in Dr. Chee Soon Juan's version of events, that was untrue as he said he never had any intention to force Mr. Chiam out of the party and it was Mr Chiam who was bent on quitting. Mr. Chiam’s wife, Mrs Lina Chiam, 61, then came out and said that Dr. Chee's version of events was only "half of the truth". Singaporeans are shaking their head and saying this is another incident when the opposition is more interested in taking pot-shots at each other than the PAP.

But you know what; I don’t think this is a bad thing. First off, Singaporeans really need to rid of their thinking that the opposition is a united front. It’s not, and it never been a united front.

How could they be when they all belong to different political parties fighting for different causes. The Workers Party (used to) fight for more rights for workers; the SDP fight for freedom and human rights; the Singapore People's Party…okay, it’s just a political vehicle for Chiam See Tong, but the main thing is they are all different political parties with different agendas and it is inevitable that they would clash on occasion.

Call me crazy but I think this is healthy! These are politicians who are doing what they’re doing because they want to come out in front. That’s a good thing! Nothing is for free and political mud-slinging like this is normal. Even in the PAP with its iron-clad discipline, we had heard of politicians falling out with each other, so what’s new?

So before any Singaporeans start shaking their head about how disunited the opposition is, they should remember one simple thing; they were never together in the first place and these are politicians; getting down and dirty with each other is what they do.

It’s normal.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


In my last post, I said that Singaporeans should be allowed to sell off their flats for cash if they want to. My position is simple; if the flat is yours, then you should be allowed to sell it if you want to.

By that same token, the CPF is supposed to be your money so if you want to use it to invest in stocks, you should be allowed to. That’s why I strongly disagree with the suggestion that the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) be stopped.

During a ministerial dialogue, a resident claim that that he had lost some $350,000 in his CPF account after investing in shares and suggested that the CPF Board stop allowing members to invest in shares and risk losing their retirement nest egg.

Now I’m sorry this man lost so much money in stocks, but that got nothing to do with the CPF. It’s his choice to invest in the stock market, and it’s hardly the CPF fault that he lost the money. If you are afraid of losing your nest egg, then don’t go into the stock market.

I for one never used CPFIS, but the option is there. The matter here is “choice”. You have a choice of entering the stock market, that doesn’t mean you can blame CPF if you lose.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Asset Rich, Cash Poor

At a forum organized by the Singapore government’s feedback unit, REACH, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that there is a growing trend of elderly home-owners who sold their flats to pay off debts and then asked the government for a rental unit. The PM said that the government is concerned and keeping a close eye on the matter.

Now the Singapore assumption is that your property is an asset for one’s old age and to most Singaporeans, a property is a must. However in this case, I disagree with the PM’s suggestion that elderly home-owners should not sell their flats.

One of the biggest problems of Singaporeans is that they are asset rich but cash poor, and I think most Singaporeans will agree that their wealth is tied up in their property. Now at the risk of being dry, I will get into some numbers. Take for example an elderly person who sells his flat and bought a new flat like the PM want and make $40,000 in profit (a solid number I think). What happen then?

Assuming his daily expenses is on the low side of about $10 (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc), he would have spent $3,650 per year. In 10 years time, the money would be gone! Would he not still be in the same position he is now about having to sell his flat again?

Yes, because getting a job is not an option as the PM himself said, the person is elderly. How would a 60+, 70+ person find a job in Singapore? If you are an employer, would you pick a 70+ Singaporean or a 20+ foreign worker?

And that’s for an elderly person; if it is an “elderly couple”, the money would be gone twice as fast and they would be in the same position in just 5 years time!

However that is not what I am really disagreeing about. What I truly disagree is this thinking that elderly Singaporeans should not sell their flats. Why?

We have foreigners coming in to Singapore to speculate on the property markets, but elderly Singaporeans (who made Singapore what it is now) should NOT sell their flats?

What kind of sense is that? PM Lee said this goes against the aim of these homes as assets for life, but the thing is; if you are 70+, how many more years do you have? If these elderly people can’t sell their flats at this age, then when can they sell the flats? If you are 70+, you will be less worried about the asset that is the flat and more worried about if you have the money to eat.

Sell the flat, get a rental unit for $50-$100 per month so that daily expenses would not be a problem. That makes perfect sense to me. In contrast, the PM’s floated idea of keeping the flat makes no sense to me. What’s the use of keeping the flat when you have debts and even have problems finding the money to eat? It’s not like Singapore has any welfare programs for the elderly.

Now I understand the PM’s idea of the flat being an asset for life. However at 60-70 years of age, being asset rich is less important than being cash rich and I truly feel giving these rental flats to these elderly is the right thing to do.

After all, what choice do they have? If they keep the flat, they would be chased by the debt-collectors and might have problem to put food on the table. Compare that to the solution of selling and getting a rental flat, it’s hardly even a choice.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

And We Have An Answer...

In a rare move in Singapore, the chief of the Real Estate Development Association (REDAS) Mr. Simon Cheong made a public complain that the Singapore government has interfered too much in the property market and that the government has to take some of the blame for the sky-high property prices in Singapore.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan then had the thankless task of defending the government’s position for failing to control the sky-rocketing property prices, saying that the government has a “role” to play in the property market but they do it sparingly and only because the government wanted to see a “stable, healthy market, where prices are generally moving in tandem with the fundamentals of the economy”.

The spat came on the back of yet another record price for a HDB flat as a Taiwanese couple forked out an amazing $650,000 for a four-room flat. No, that is not a misprint. It is $650,000 and for foreigners who never seen a HDB flat before, this amount to $736 psf.

Trick question: How do you know when you are in a property bubble and property prices had gone beyond the means of Singaporeans to buy?
Answer: When the people most involved are falling over themselves to push the blame.

Guess any questions about the “affordability” of HDB flats in Singapore are over.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Comics this week

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #1- Curiosity more than anything caused me to pick up this first issue. With all the books-to-comics adaptation, I guess it was a matter of time before Wheel of Time got the treatment. It’s always a joy to see characters given life and it was fun to see how the Rand, Mat & company looked like. Mostly in line with the books, except Lan who didn’t look anything like I envisioned, this issue was surprising good. A faithful adaptation of the first part of the first book, Eye of The World, I am surprised by the quality of the issue. The only problem I have is that you really have to be a fan of Wheel of Time to enjoy this issue. The issue actually starts a few years before the start of the book, then jump to a prologue during the breaking of the world by Lews Therin (which is also the prologue in the book), then back to when Rand Al’Thor first met the woman who would changed his life. The issue stops right there and I fear people who haven’t read the Wheel of Time may have a hard time understanding the issue. Gleeman, The Dragon, a Warder; the issue is packed with names and ideas that are not explained because there’s just not enough room. For me however, this was an enjoyable read.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What global warming is good for

It seems global warming is good for something after all. New Moore Island, a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal, had been claimed by both India and Bangladesh for nearly 30 years.

Years of negotiations have failed to settle the dispute of who own the island, and now it doesn’t matter. Because the island is gone!

Yes, it is GONE!

Rising sea levels have completely submerged the island. Granted the island was only about 3.5 km by 3 km, but for it to be completely submerged was still something else.

On the bright side, no one will be stupid enough to go to war over an island that’s underwater (touch wood). So it seems global warming is good for something after all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What For?

A patron at the recently opened casino at Resorts World Sentosa reported to the press that she saw other patrons smoking in the casino. Since there is a law in Singapore banning indoor smoking, Singaporeans are questioning the double standards in the enforcement of the no-smoking indoor ban.

Is there a double standard when it comes to the IRs in Singapore?

Evidently yes because the National Environment Agency (NEA) has said that smoking is allowed within the gambling halls at Resorts World Sentosa as well as the upcoming Marina Bay Sands.

So you have it! The Singapore government is so desperate to ensure the success of the casinos that they will willingly bend the rules/laws of the country to accommodate them!

Needless to say, I find this stupid. Now I am one of those in Singapore who is unsure about the success of the casinos; I’m just not that 100% they will succeed, but I’m sure that the success or failure of the casinos will have little to nothing to do with allowing smoking in the casinos!

Simply put, not all gamblers are smokers and not all smokers are gamblers. How would allowing smokers in the gambling halls of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands ensure the success of the IRs?

It can’t. If the Singapore government really want to ensure the success of the casinos, then they should get rid of the $100 entrance charge for Singaporeans. I am sure that would be more successful than allowing smoking in the casinos because I know of a lot of Singaporeans who do NOT go to the casinos due to the entrance charge.

Smoking? I’m sure no one pay the $100 entrance fee just to smoke in the casino.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Are You Waiting For?

Last year, water was discovered on the moon of Earth. A breakthrough then, the surprise discovery had scientists reconsidering their concept of Earth's rocky neighbor and spurned new searches for more water on the moon.

They found them.

3 different probes from NASA and India’s Space Agency had found ice in over 40 different carters on the moon. And these are not just trace amounts! NASA believed in total there are about 600 million tons of ice on the moon!

600 million tons! Now if only someone can pony up the guts and money to build a station on the moon…hopefully in my lifetime.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Any Regrets?

Last year, China was widely blamed for destroying the Copenhagen Climate Summit and not without reason. Understandable as China was, and still is, more worried about their growth figures than environment protection.

I wonder if they had changed their minds now.

People in Beijing woke up on Saturday morning to find the Chinese capital blanketed in a sandstorm. Strong winds and a severe drought in northern China and Mongolia caused a sandstorm to sweep into the city and cover the capital in a layer of yellow dust.

Chinese authorities were forced to issue a pollution warning due to hazardous conditions and advised all residents to stay indoors. Not for the first time, scientists in China blame a combination of deforestation and prolonged drought in northern China for the problem. However, an unusually humid winter was also blamed this time.

Unusually humid winter? Sounds like global warming to me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Comics this week

Siege #3- Give Marvel its due; Siege is a brainless punch-up and they never pretend it to be anything else but that. Writer Brian Michael Bendis tries his best but the star of the show is artist Olivier Coipel who is going to be a big star after this series. In issue #3, Captain America and his allies, the Avengers and the Secret Warriors, have arrived in Asgard to assist the Asgardians and deliver a beating to Norman Osborn. The battle for Asgard is beautifully tendered as the sheer spectacle of it is front and centre in this issue. Coipel’s work is beautiful as the brutality and pain of the battle is shown. Look out for the fall of Asgard and Thor’s reaction to that. Beautiful! Leave your brain on the cover, and you will enjoy this issue.

Guardians of the Galaxy #24- I will say this about writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. They have a plan. With the revelation last issue that Magus is still alive and he had captured about half the team, this issue show how Phyla-Vell and company intend to right that wrong and finish Magus once and for all. Of course, they are on the Church of Universal Truth homeworld so they would have to fight off all the troops first. The other half of the team are used mainly for comedic relief this issue, and it was pretty well-done. The way Star-Lord got one over Blastaar and got them a seat on the Galactic Council was hilarious. Still, the main player this issue was Phyla-Vell and the return of a mega-villain. Usually, the return of such a character would come out of left field but not so here. It made sense and was very well-plotted. Like I said, Abnett and Lanning have a plan.

Nova #35- The current storyline ends with this issue as the Sphinx gets his just dessert and everything goes back to normal. That’s my main problem with the current Nova story. Everything goes back to normal and I’m not surprised. This story feels like a filler. It seems like something writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, came up with while they were too busy with something else. Even the surprise at the end with Namorita wasn’t that surprising because I expected something like that the moment she shown up. A poor issue to end a storyline. Hopefully things will get better or I will have to drop Nova.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Respect the Product

Video games turned into movies have a bad rap. Deservedly so as the movies from Mortal Combat to Mario Brothers were all between terrible and horrible.

A lot of times, I had heard of people asking why that is the case. I never understood that question because I always thought the reasons were obvious. First and foremost, Hollywood does not respect the parent product.

How else could you explain Jamie Foxx in negotiations to star opposite Bruce Willis in "Kane & Lynch"? Reports are out that Jamie Foxx is up for the role of Lynch with Bruce Willis playing the role of Kane. Now I never played "Kane & Lynch", but I know both Kane & Lynch are white guys! In fact, isn’t Lynch supposed to be a schizophrenic redneck?

Jamie Foxx is black!

Now they may still be able to make a great action movie out of this, but somehow I just seriously doubt it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Left With No Choice

Recently the Israeli ambassador to America Michael Oren had been quoted as saying relations between Israel and its key ally the United States have hit a 35 year-low.

As Singapore is an ally of both Israel and the U.S, I as a Singaporean can only say, “Israel, you guys deserved anything that is coming your way.”

Relations between Israel and the U.S hit a low when Israel decided to announce an expansion of settlements in east Jerusalem. Not that usual as Israel routinely ignored international condemnation in expanding illegal settlements in Arab lands, but what was unusual is the timing. The decision was announced while U.S Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Israel with the aim of promoting indirect peace talks between the Israeli and the Palestinians.

What’s worse, the expansion announcement was made after Biden had professed unconditional U.S. support for Israel and there's a report saying that the announcement came even though the Americans and the Israeli had agreed that there would be NO mention of new settlements during Biden’s trip! Needless to say, the Arabs were unhappy with the middle finger shown in their direction while the Americans called the announcement an insult to the Vice-President.

Now I had never for once believed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was serious in having peace talks with the Palestinians, but what in the world are you guys thinking? PM Netanyahu may claim that he was blindsided by the announcement and apologized for the timing of it, but they are still proceeding with the construction of the new homes and even started taking bids for the construction of 300 more homes!

To me, calling this an insult and a slap in the face was an understatement! Israel is literally forcing the Americans to take actions against them. If the U.S does nothing, the creditability of the Obama Administration (not high to begin with) in the world would be destroyed.

Yes it is “in the world” because if the U.S allows Israel, an ally, to get away scot-free on this, why would China, North Korea, Iran or any other country in the world take America seriously?

Like it or not, the U.S needs to take serious action on Israel. Not for the sake of Middle East peace, but for the sake of their standing in the world.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect was a very good action sci-fi RPG. It was a little short and a little too easy for my taste but it had a good story and enough action to compensate for its shortcoming. As with all sequels, Mass Effect 2 aims to improve on the first game.

The result was mixed.

One thing Bioware got right was the story. The story of Mass Effect 2 was really quite complicated, but good writing ensured a smooth flow to the story and I was never caught out by the story. The story does not jump and you could follow the story very well. Having said that, it certainly help that I had played Mass Effect first before Mass Effect 2. Like I said earlier, the story is quite complicated and you could only truly understand the beauty of the story if you had played the first game. However, even if you didn’t play the first game, there are great depth and characters in the game to really get you into the story.

I won’t dive into the story too clearly because I don’t want to spoil it for you but I will say I was impressed with the way the decisions of the first game affected the world of Mass Effect 2. If you had finished Mass Effect, you can import your character and game into Mass Effect 2. Not just your character's look, but the decisions you made in the first game will be carried over. Unfortunately this effect was only done with a soft touch. The decision made at the first game's climax was referenced but didn’t really affect gameplay that much and the big decision you had to make in Mass Effect on who you had to let die almost had no effect at all. Still, I enjoyed the minor touches on how decisions made in Mass Effect affected the world of Mass Effect 2.

As with the previous game, Mass Effect 2 is a beautiful game. Visually, the game looks more interesting as everything from the station stations, the colonies, the various planets, were beautifully tendered. Even the blast-out ruins of a planet was great to look at. Also as with the previous game, you recruit a squad and can choose two squad mates to accompany you on your mission. Unlike some other games, your squad mates are very useful in Mass Effect 2. They use their powers, follow your orders and leads, and each comes with their own usually painful but interesting back-story.

The problem of being too short and too easy was also dealt with as Mass Effect 2 is much longer than Mass Effect and a little bit more difficult. Gameplay was improved as the combat system was tweaked to be more Halo-like. For anyone who do not know what this means, it means combat in Mass Effect 2 is “Run to cover, shoot, cover, kill the enemy, run on to new cover”.

Yes, Mass Effect 2 is a shooter. I don’t care what Bioware says, Mass Effect 2 is NOT a RPG! Bioware said that the RPG element in Mass Effect 2 has been “streamlined”…don’t believe it! The RPG elements in the game has not streamlined but totally destroyed. Instead of the 10-15 skills of Mass Effect, you only get 5-6 skills. Most, if not all, of them useful but a game with only 5-6 skills to improve on is NOT a RPG.

This is one of a number of things I dislike about Mass Effect 2. Outside turning Mass Effect 2 is an action shooter similar to Halo, what happened to the Mako? In Mass Effect, you land on a planet in the Mako all-terrain vehicle and drove around the planet to the site of the action. In the middle of the trip, you can mine resources if you happened to come across them.

In Mass Effect 2, there’s no Mako! And I loved the Mako! Yes, I know there were a lot of complaints about the Mako but even if those complaints were true, who in Bioware actually thought this scanning and probing mini-game was a better alternative? In Mass Effect 2, the way to get resources is to scan the planet for resources and once you hit an area with high content, send a probe to the area to extract it. It’s very sci-fi but also a time-sink. Worse, it’s a time-sink you can’t avoid because you need these resources to make the high level weapons necessary to fight the end-game.

One more thing is the recent rage of DLC or “downloadable content”. Mass Effect 2 has a system called the Cerberus System which you can go directly to and download additional content for Mass Effect 2. For the life of me I don’t understand why they bother. The Cerberus System is terrible. It took me about 6 emails to Bioware before I finally got it to work and even after that, there wasn’t any good content for download. What’s worse is that the latest download required you to pay for it. So what’s the use of the Cerberus System? There is no difference between it and any other website like Stream because you still need to pay for it. So why bother setting up the Cerberus System?

Overall, I guess you can say Mass Effect 2 is a better game than Mass Effect. There’s a lot more action and shooting in Mass Effect 2 and the story, already top-notch in Mass Effect, was even better with an excellent story, great depth and great characters. However you have been warned; Mass Effect 2 is no RPG.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Proud Whiner

Yesterday in the Singapore New Paper, there was a report on a man who refused to pay a parking ticket. The man was ticketed for parking illegally along a road, but the man refused to pay for the fine.

Not that unusual, a lot of people complain when they have to pay for any fines. The thing was this man’s excuse. He admitted that he was parked illegally, but refused to pay because there were other illegally parked vehicles beside his car and they were not ticketed as well.

Yes, you read that right. His excuse wasn’t that he was innocent; it was because other people didn’t suffer the same fate as him. To put icing on the cake, this man complained that parking officers was targeting him because he was driving a Mercedes Benz!

What a whiner! I mean if you want to appeal against a fine, at the very least has the decency of pretending to be innocent. I mean what’s so great about a Mercedes Benz? If parking attendants want to target cars, they would probably target Rolls Royce, Ferraris etc. Doesn’t this guy know that there are quite a number of Mercedes Benz in Singapore?

So not only was this guy a whiner, he’s a proud whiner as well! I mean a Mercedes Benz in Singapore? Yeah, that’s so unusual.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Have Some Pride

As Greece try to find a way out of their debt crisis, there seems to be one country they want to come to their rescue. That country is Germany, but the German are refusing to play ball and thus far, has refused to provide any financial assistance to ease the Greek debt crisis.

There had been protests in the streets of Greece and anger over Germany’s refusal to provide rescue money unless the Greek government does more to reform their system. Now I know they are both part of the European Union, but why should Germany step in to pay Greece’s debts?

From what I read so far, the previous Greek government was the one who chalk up Greece’s national debt, then they engaged in accounting tricks to hide the debts, and now the current government does not have the money to pay for the debts they have. Where does Germany come into this?

I mean Singapore and Malaysia might be part of Asean, but if Singapore has debts, I won’t expect Malaysia to pay them. Vice verse, if Malaysia has debts, I wouldn’t want Singapore to help pay them off. And we used to be 1 country!

To any Greek reading this, I mean no insult but it’s kind of pathetic to blame the Germans for not paying off your debt. Have some pride and pay off your own debts!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Comics this week

Secret Six #19 –With the Blackest Night tie-ins over, regular service is back. Writer Gail Simone has the team back to what it does best; on a misadventure for cash and money. The mission this time is to save the grandson of a multibillionaire from a cult dedicated to Brother Blood. Send Black Alice undercover, things quickly went to hell as it always does with this group. What’s different is how Bane handled the whole situation, how the group swarmed in to save their teenage newcomer (which is something they probably would not do if another one of them was in the same situation) and the blossoming love affair between Ragdoll & Black Alice. In another show of adult concern, almost all of the Secret Six object to this affair. In the end, #19 is a set-up issue with a twist at the end regarding Catman & an ex-member of the group but I don’t care. I’m just glad regular service is back.

S.W.O.R.D #5- And with this, the fun little read that is S.W.O.R.D is over. It was a fun ride and this final issue showed actually why. Action, humor and witty dialogue all over the place, S.W.O.R.D is one of those brilliant overlook series because all the fan-boys were too busy X-Men, Superman, Avengers crap. Hell we even saw some character development here by writer Kieron Gillen. Hopefully, he can continue S.W.O.R.D soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It’s Gopalan Nair!

Gopalan Nair wrote on his blog recently that Singapore’s strongman Lee Kuan Yew suffered a massive heart attack and was warded in SGH. He said on the same post that there were demonstrations and civil unrest on the streets of Singapore.

Later, on the same day, Gopalan blogged that the post was a hoax created by him.

The blogshere of Singapore has been raging against Gopalan ever since. Most said that it was irresponsible of him to create such a vicious hoax and some even said it destroys the credibility of bloggers in Singapore. One even said that people could get killed by such rumors.

I will admit that when I read the post, I was in a mind of writing a glowing tribute to the living-legend that is Lee Kuan Yew but then I remember who wrote the post.

People, it’s Gopalan Nair! The man is a rabble-rouser and seemingly proud of that. He has an axe to grind with the Singapore government and to be fair Gopalan hasn’t really tried to hide that fact.

I mean really people, it’s Gopalan Nair! Did anyone really take him seriously?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Obedient Wives

Sometimes I read blogs about Singapore, and recently both Seelan Palay's Blog & Rachel Zeng’s Blog talk about a conversation Rachel Zeng heard on the MRT.

Basically the conversation was by a group of middle-age folks who were wondering how to find a suitable wife for one of their sons. Rachel Zeng was disturbed when one of them said that local women are useless while another suggested that Vietnamese brides are better as they are more ‘obedient’.

Rachel Zeng was unhappy with this mass grouping of Singaporean women while Seelan Palay commented that it was very disappointing that men still hold such views of women in society. He then commented that it is pathetic that Singaporean men actually want women from "developing" countries because they assume they will be more obedient.

Personally I fail to see what’s wrong with the views stated by the group of middle-age folks. It’s hardly a secret that Singaporean women have a reputation of being demanding and materialistic, while women from other countries in Asia have a reputation of being more ‘obedient’.

Now I won’t say all Singaporean women are demanding and materialistic, but what was stated is known and commonly accepted facts in Singapore. Is it wrong for the group to state accepted facts held by a vast majority of Singaporeans? I don’t think so.

Another thing is why is it a problem if Singaporean men take foreign brides because they are more ‘obedient’? Singaporean women marry foreign (white) men all the time and no one complain about it. This is the country of the ‘Party Sarong Girl’, so what’s wrong with it the other way around?

Last I check Singapore is still in Asia and there are Singapore (Asian) men who want obedient and domesticated wives. And if they do want women like that, most Singaporean women would be out of the question because most young Singaporean women I know do not cook.

Now there are Singaporean men who do not care how domesticated their wives are, and that’s perfectly fine. However there are Singaporean men who do want a traditional obedient wife, and to me…what’s wrong with that? Nothing wrong there!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Singapore's Tiger Woods

Recently Singapore got its own Tiger Woods episode. A veteran Singaporean film-maker, actor and comedian, Jack Neo, had a 2 year affair with 22-year-old model, Wendy Chong.

The affair was exposed by Ms. Chong who has in recent days went on a tell-all about the affair, including where they had sex! Throughout the whole affair, Jack’s wife has remained calm, saying not only has she forgiven her husband, she had known about the affair for some time already.

Now there are questions in the media about whether Singaporeans will still go and see Jack’s movies and what a bad example he is to the young of Singapore.

Oh please! I like to know when has Jack Neo been an example for the young of Singapore? Yes, you can argue he is a self-made man but the man makes low-brow comedies! For those who never seen his movies before, think of an Adam Sandler’s movie in a Singapore context and you’ll get the idea. Yes, I know he got some cultural medal but since when was Jack Neo ever been a cultural ambassador of Singapore?

Besides, to his credit, Jack Neo has never had the image of a devoted family man. I never even knew he had 4 kids before this incident. Add to the fact that his wife also seems to have accepted and forgiven Jack Neo…so why is the Singapore media so hung up about this affair?

So in short my view on this is; he is rich, powerful and in show-business. What’s the big deal?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mindless Oscar Rant

The Academy Awards ceremony is over and the big winner is Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker" which won awards, including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow.

The other winners were: Jeff Bridges as best actor for "Crazy Heart"; Sandra Bullock as best actress for "The Blind Side"; Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for "Inglourious Basterds"; and Mo'Nique as supporting actress for "Precious".

Now the big news to the rest of the world may be how Bigelow beat ex-husband James Cameron to become the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to win the award for best director, but to me the big news is…between all the movies that have big wins ("The Hurt Locker", "Crazy Heart", "The Blind Side", "Inglourious Basterds", and "Precious"), I have not seen a single one of these movies!

The Horror! How can I be so out-of-date that I miss ALL the movies that won the big prizes at Oscar Bight? Hell, I even missed Pixar’s "Up", which won the feature-animation Oscar. I’ll never live this down, I can’t even remember the last this happen.

Oh, I’m horrible! Almost make me want Avatar to win best picture…almost.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

O Canada!

“O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”

These are the words to the Canadian national anthem and it seems that some feminists want the Canadian Parliament to review the lyrics to the anthem.

From what I read on the internet, they are objecting to the line "true patriot love in all thy sons command," and want the Canadian Parliament to review the "original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem" and change the line to “something more inclusive”.

Maybe it’s because I’m Asian and from Singapore but rather amazingly (to me), the Canadian government is taking the proposal seriously!

Now I know I have no place to talk about Canadians changing their national anthem but I laugh my guts out when I read this. I have some idea that women rights is very powerful in the West but to be able to change the wording of the national anthem?

Wow! Now that’s power.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why It Will Stay Just Talk

With the Budget 2010 out, there has been a lot of talk about increasing productivity in Singapore. The main topic of PAP MPs has been how to make the Singaporean worker work harder, faster and better.

In theory the idea is good, however I have my doubts. The main reason for my doubts is because of the 200-pound gorilla in the room none of the PAP MPs has mentioned; why would Singapore employers hired these Singaporean workers who work harder, faster and better?

People who know me know my views on this. Personally, I don’t believe in the Singaporean government policy of getting Singaporeans workers to retrain and upgrade their skills. My reason is simple; there’s no reason for Singapore employers to hire these Singaporeans when they can just hire cheap foreign labor.

PAP MP Ong Ah Heng gave an example in Parliament recently about how after a single complaint from his residents, he fired all the old local cleaners in his precinct and hired young foreign workers. He used this as an example of how without foreign workers, productivity in Singapore will be worse.

However unlike most other countries, Singapore is unusual as foreign workers are in all levels of working life here. In other countries, foreign workers are accepted in low-paying jobs at the bottom of the job market or in very high-paying jobs at the very top of the job market.

That’s not the case in Singapore.

In Singapore, you are find foreign customer officers, foreign event organizers, foreign office workers; basically foreign workers in Singapore do not take jobs which are shunned by Singaporeans or take jobs which Singaporeans are unable to do. They take jobs in Singapore in all levels because employers in Singapore find them cheaper to employ. Employers in Singapore don’t hire foreign workers because they are more productive or because Singapore workers are lazy. They hire foreign worker because they are cheap!

In fact, the importing and hiring of cheap foreign workers is what cause the fall in productivity in Singapore. I got personal experience in this because I work with a few Filipinos. All of them speak English but one of them speaks with such a thick accent, sometimes even I have a hard time understanding him. So sometimes when clients call in, they cannot understand him and asked for a Singaporean speaker instead. Is that productive?

This is hardly unusual in Singapore because sometimes clients called in, I pick up the phone and I can’t understand them because they are from China or the Philippines. So just imagine when a foreign worker from China (who speaks little English) called in and get to speak to one of my Filipino co-worker (who speaks English with a foreign accent).

Is it any wonder why there is a fall in productivity in Singapore? I believed MP Ong must never have picked up a phone and spoke to an employee who is from a foreign country. So say all you want about increasing productivity, but none of it will matter because Singapore employers would not care. Why should they when they can just feed their bottom-line by hiring cheap foreign workers?

That’s why I think all the talk of productivity will stay just that; talk.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Comics this week

First Wave #1- After the Batman/Doc Savage Special, I was looking forward to this. I always look forward to new universe being created and First Wave got the added hook of DC heroes in a non-superpower world. After reading this issue, I have to say Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales had done a good job. The pulp world they put together is interesting, alternative, and non-conventional all at the same time. The story centers Doc Savage who begins to investigate the recent death of his father and uncovers strange things about a group called the Red Right Hand. In between we are also with The Spirit in Central City on one of his crime-fighting capers and a story in the jungles of South America involving a mysterious jungle girl and a robot. It’s intriguing if nothing else but I do have a sight fear that writer Brian Azzarello may have been a little too ambitious. Azzarello did very well with Doc Savage and The Spirit and the issue is well-paced, but the cast of First Wave is huge and though I had no problems with the main characters, there were a lot of side-characters who are totally unknown to me. Still, there is enough here to get me back for more.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #4- And everything finally comes together! The final issue of the series tried hard to make sense of everything; the reason for the hunt for the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, why Wanda is helping Angel, what Xavier was doing in Genosha Bay; everything was touched on. However it was a little too little, too late. The confusing story and artwork in the previous issues of X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain was just too big of a hole for one issue to dig out off. It was fun seeing a foul-mouth Kitty and watching someone getting the better of Xavier but as a whole this series was disappointing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

50-50? No, It Was Not

Okay, over the weekend there is this football game in the English Premier League between Stoke and Arsenal. In the game, Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross broke Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey‘s leg.

Since the incident, there had been a lot of talk defending Shawcross’ tackle. Commentators are saying it was just a 50-50 tackle, Shawcross is a “great lad” who did not mean to break Ramsey’s leg, that Ramsey was just unlucky etc.

What a joke!

What game were these people watching? I saw the game live on television and how in the world is that a 50-50 tackle? Ramsey was always the favorite to the ball and Shawcross was late, very late! It wasn’t even close and at best, I will call it a 70-30 tackle. When I saw Ramsey on the ground, I immediately thought this could be bad. Unfortunately it was and Shawcross got a well-deserved red card.

What I don’t understand is how anyone can defend that tackle. Then I remember people defending Martin Taylor when he broke Eduardo’s leg two years ago. The argument was the same then; 50-50 tackle, a “great lad”, did not mean it etc. It's funny but talk about a broken record!

Back then Martin Taylor got a ban of a few games while Eduardo was out for over a year. This is probably what will happen now. Ryan Shawcross will get a 3 match ban while Aaron Ramsey will be out for months. That is injustice in itself, let’s not compound it by claiming it was just a 50-50 tackle.

It was not!

Monday, March 1, 2010

EPL this month

Two thirds of the season is over and each team only has slightly over 10 games before the season is over. These are the teams making a run this month.

Top Teams this Month
Everton- After a poor start, Everton managed to get their season on track again. Manager David Moyes has been getting a lot of the credit of beating Man Utd and Chelsea, but fans should be thanking Louis Saha. The French striker is the form striker of the EPL this month and a place in Europe is within reach of Everton now.

Arsenal- The Gunners just will not go away. When they were beaten by Man Utd, everyone thought they were gone but the spirit of the team pulled them through. Manager Arsene Wenger has a list of injuries to contend with but he must be delighted with the spirit his team is showing.

Man City- When Mark Hughes was gone and Roberto Mancini became the new manager, there were a lot of unhappy people in England. Newspaper had been saying that Hughes had been badly treated and wasn’t shy about the fact they were out to get Mancini. Somehow even a draw against Liverpool is considered a bad result for Man City, but a 4-2 win against Chelsea shut everyone up. Not only that, Man City is currently in pole position for that 4th spot and the Champions League beckons next season.

Surprise Team this month
Stoke- They went 11 games without losing. Yes, Stoke went 11 games without losing. Of course they then lost at home to Arsenal but the real reason Stoke is the surprise team of the month is Ryan Shawcross. The defender did a horror tackle against Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey that broken Ramsey’s right leg in 2 places, but then got an England call-up later on the same day. Talk about irony!

Disappointing Teams this month
Portsmouth- Debts have piled up and the team is in administration. That’s means the team is going to have a 9 points deduction this season which means they are going down.

Burnley- How bad is Burnley? They were playing Portsmouth at home, on the same day Portsmouth went into administration, and still lost! If Burnley cannot beat a team in the situation Portsmouth was in, they are going down.