Singapore National Education Part 91
Weeks of 11 October 2003 to 24 November 2003
I have also learned lately:
1. That the govt has launched the following Cut Waste Panel website for the public views on how waste could be cut in the Civil Service.
I propose we install large Plasma TVs in the Cut Waste Panel offices running programs that help citizens understand how to cut waste.
2. That PAP MP (West Coast) Ho Geok Choo reminded the House that older professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETS) are, for the first time, among the hardest hit by lay-offs. 'By and large, the above-40s PMETs are the ones who would be financially squeezed with the prospect of no or lesser CPF contributions to service their mortgages and other mid-life commitments,' Madam Ho said.
The government should take a second look and see how it can help these 'new poor of Singapore', she pleaded."
Hey, "New Poor". I like that original idea. Now why doesn't the Opposition come up with insights like the New Poor?
3. That according to the police, "the average waiting time to be served at a large regional police station, such as the Jurong Division Police Headquarters (JDHQ), is about 15 minutes. National and crime-prevention messages are screened for members of the public waiting to be served."
Now that is a really good excuse. I plan to use it to convince my wife to let me get a plasma TV. If this line works for the police, it should work for me too, as I only need one, not two, large screen plasma TVs.
Here's a thought. Instead of large plasma TVs, how about faster service? Then no one will need watch any TV. We'd save more money.
4. That Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury," his popular and beloved comic strip, might be pulled from roughly half of the 700 newspapers that syndicate it, because he mentioned, gasp, MASTURBATION!!!
His comic strip references the New Scientist study that masturbation prevents prostate cancer.
I wonder how many US papers will pull my column if I were syndicated by 700 newspapers. I have already mentioned masturbation at least twice in my TODAY columns, including one that references the same study.
USA, Land of Free Speech.
5. That a local firm, ISO Promotions, sued a fresh mass communications diploma holder, Miss Sherry Ng, $1.2 million for breaching her employment contract.
She did not show up for her new $1800 per month job, so they sent her a letter after 3 months of her absence, asking her to pay $5400 (three months salary in lieu of notice) as per Clause 7 of the employment agreement. She did not pay (and a district judge agreed because that clause only applied to employees, which she was not because she never showed up to work).
They later asked for damages of $1.2 million - for wasting its time looking for Miss Ng's replacement, for placing a job ad for someone else to fill the post and for the projected loss of revenue that Miss Ng would have generated.
The company considered her to be exceptional and solid, despite the fact that she was a fresh diploma holder with no sales and marketing experience.
The court threw out their claim and asked the young lady to pay the company $41.60, the cost of placing an ad in the papers to look for her replacement.
6. That to 30% of dog poo bags in parks misused, says NParks
You know, I saw this on a CNA ticker recently and almost gagged on my drink. I am appalled. This rampant misuse of dog poo bags MUST STOP!!!! I am so pleased that NParks has the manpower to monitor and statistically calculate the percentage of dog poo bags being misused.
Now all we need is a Task Force to fight this scourge upon the land.
"UP to 30% of dog poo bags in parks misused, says NParks
The National Parks Board has been providing dog owners with poo bags for some two years now.
Although most dog owners have been using these poo bags, some 10 to 30 percent of the bags are misused.
Responsible dog owners do clean up after their dogs with the poo bags, after a romp in the park.
But visitors to Ulu Pandan park connector often find the dog poo bag stands empty every weekend.
Dog owners who frequent Bishan Park also face the same problem.
"I've seen some people just take it, don't know for what reasons, they don't have a dog but they still take the bag, the dog poo bag."
"I've seen people putting their empty drink cans in the bags before throwing it away."
NParks found that one in three bags were misused.
And so while the stands at the 96 parks are replenished once a week, dog owners say it ought to be more frequent.
"I can bring from home but you'll never know how many bags you'll need. It's better if it's available here."
While NParks doesn't think the rate of misuse is too serious, it hopes dog owners will continue to keep the parks clean.
"Some of them they bring their dogs here and they poo here and they just pretend they don't see. Then we saw it and tell them they say where, where, where. I said there, there, there." "-CNA 7 Sept 2003
7. That 3 Room Flats are suddenly promoted as the new 5-room when CPF cuts are killing the Singapore Dream.
Smaller mortgage. Designer decor. The humble three-room HDB flat has suddenly become 70sq m of stylish living -By Ginnie Teo
Trend Started In 2001
THE trend of singles and smaller families buying three-room homes started two years ago, interior designers and property agents said.
Give Us Condo Look
Their wish list often went like this: Knock down all the walls, give me a loft look and build a walk-in wardrobe.
Slice of Italy at her door
For $900, interior designer Cheong Kyn Fang created a tiny slice of Italy at her doorstep.
Light and airy 'loft'
Small does not necessarily mean cramped. Photo: Tan Howe Yang
The first thing that disappeared in Mr Bob Cheah's three-room flat in Telok Blangah were the walls."
8. That yet another precinct has voted against Upgrading because of greater economic certainty and fear of losing jobs. Guess we will have to find another carrot next time. Or work on ensuring more walkovers.
9. That some suggestions to the Cut Waste Panel include downgrading the high-end Volvos used by the Traffic Police to cheaper Japanese cars. I suggest a 600cc Subaru Vivio.
10. That it is an art to dance sexily on bar-tops. Yes, all those men gathering at the watering holes offering bar-top dancing are there patronising the Arts. And they read Playboy for the articles too.
Coming soon, The Brahm’s Big Boob Babes Bar-top Dancers performing Cantatas with the SSO at The Esplanade.
"Life As A Bar-Top Dancer
'Some may think that this is cheap... but it's an art to dance sexily' -By Li Xueying"
"Graphic Designer By Day. Belle Of The Bar Top At Night.
Her sizzling hot dance moves on the bar top at Devils Bar have earned Miss Kuan no lack of admirers, but too bad, guys, she already has a boyfriend. -By Tan Suan Ann"
11. That the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued 261 people for online song copying. One of these evil doers is 12-year-old Brianna. She, in her child-like naivete, thought that the US$29.99 her mom paid for the Kazaa service allowed her to download songs for free.
In a massive gesture of compassion and humanity, the RIAA agreed to allow her family to pay US$2000 to settle out of court. She was so lucky, she could have faced US$150,000 per illegal song. And the RIAA may even have had to confiscate all her toys to make up the shortfall her family could not pay.
Said Brianna of the law suit, who did not know she was commiting this heinious crime, "I got really scared. My stomach is all turning"
Brianna lives in a New York Housing Authority apartment, which is cheap housing for poor and moderate-income families. But of course this kind of crime cannot go unpunished, as RIAA studio executives are now having a hard time paying off the loan on their penthhouse condominiums because of this sort of song-trading.
RIAA president Cary Sherman said in a statement, "Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation. But when your product is being regularly stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action."
That's right, Cary, you go squash those evil kids out there.
So now, Brianna's less-than-wealthy family is now US$2000 poorer. No CDs for Brianna for a while, I think. Maybe the rest of the world may want to cut down on their CD purchases too.
12. That the RIAA has moved from suing 12-year-olds to declaring war on kiddie porn, which they helpfully share that P2P (Peer-2-Peer) filesharing is perpetuating.
Wow, the RIAA really cares for our kids.
13. That when you sell overpriced music CDs, then you copy-protect music CDs so that they do not play on PCs and some CD players, then you sue the very customers who buy your CDs because of filesharing, it is a little hard to imagine how that will help your sales in any way.
A decline in CD sales has worsened. Between June 15 and August 3, the decline in CD sales accelerated 54 percent. And as of August 3, CD sales were down 9.4 percent over the same period in 2002, according to the Yankee Group. (as read on CNN)
Maybe they should sue more customers and gain some of that lost revenue back.
14. That the Recording Industry Association of Singapore (RIAS) is also working with local ISPs to send warning letters to illegal music filesharers. And unlike the US, Singapore is not exactly known for our privacy laws.
All your songs are belong to us.
15. That my little neighbourhood children's library (the kind that has its cute little office in a void deck) has access to a database that can call up the details of my little girl with just a name and date of birth (we forgot to take her Birth Cert along to sign up for membership). They probably did not need the date of birth even, it was just to make the search easier.
That is scary indeed.
16. That politically-aware Singaporeans looked upon the birthday photo of SM Lee in the papers and commented astutely that DPM Lee Hsien Loong's daughter was damn chio (i.e. very babelicious).
Glad we all have our priorities in place.
17. That watching a pirated shot-in-the-cinema DVD version of Finding Nemo is like watching a version of the movie shot through a fish tank.
18. That it could not possibly have been our well-run labs that infected the PhD student with SARS, it could not possibly have been our well-run labs that infected the PhD student with SARS, it could not possibly have been our well-run labs that infected the PhD student with SARS.
Oh wait, it was our well-run labs that infected the PhD student with SARS.
"Singapore researcher caught SARS at govt lab
Japan Today, Sunday, September 21, 2003 at 03:30 JST
SINGAPORE — Investigators have determined that a Singaporean researcher who recently came down with symptoms of the deadly flu- ike illness known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) contracted the virus at a government lab, a well-informed source said Saturday.
The investigation conducted by Singapores Health Ministry with the help of foreign experts over the past week found that the 27-year-old post-graduate student became infected while working at a microbiology laboratory of the Environment Health Institute (EHI), which comes under the Environment Ministry. (Kyodo News)"
19. That I am sure at the end of the day, the SARS infection of the Singapore researcher was all 'an honest mistake".
"Daniel Wang, public health director-general at NEA, said his lab cultivated the Sars virus for other labs, but the last time the virus was handled in the lab was six days before the man's last visit. A 'fugitive virus' was unlikely to survive beyond two days in the lab's harsh environment, and if it did, other people would likely have shown symptoms as well, he said." -Business Times
"SARS virus samples were handled at the Environmental Health Institute lab at the National Environment Agency where the man worked, Khaw said. But he refused to speculate on whether the man may have got sick from samples in the lab.
Daniel Wang, the agency's director general, called the relationship "coincidental," saying the man visited the lab in late July and then again on Aug. 23 - six days after the last SARS samples had been handled there.
Wang said the virus could, at most, survive for two days in such an environment and that it was unlikely he would have been infected there. " -CBC News, 24 Sept
20. That Acting Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that there was no point speculating while investigations were still on, although "it would be natural for the layman to assume that the victim caught the virus at one of the laboratories." (Straits Times 10 Sept 2003)
Yeah lor, you ignorant layman. Assuming this and assuming that. Wait until the real foreign talents come in and do their investigations then we will know the real cause.
21. That another HDB delay has happened at Sengkang, the Rivervale Crescent, because the construction company responsible for the building of the flats there is in the red. Singaporeans who were inconvenienced by this development were told by their MP to be reasonable.
MP Penny Low (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) who represents the Rivervale Crescent area called for those affected by the latest delay to be understanding.
"The economic condition has caused many companies to go under and the construction industry has been badly hit. While my sympathy and heart are with the consumers, my plea to them is not to be hard and harsh, but to work together with the HDB for a solution."
I also say. You Sengkang flat buyers only kena delay in getting your flats what. Construction company went bust, ok? HDB kena bad publicity, ok? Some more we are all partners with the HDB in our nation-building home-ownership exercise, what. HDB builds the flats, we pay the high prices = partners. So we should all work together for a solution.
Here is an idea how you affected consumers can work together with the HDB for a solution. How about you guys shut up and stop complaining about your stupid rights as a consumer, while HDB scrambles to look for another construction company to take up what must be a very lucrative HDB construction project (except that the original construction company must have been damn lousy at managing their finances).
It's not like you have any choice on the matter, like there is another public housing organisation you can take your business to. So put up or shut up, I say.
22. That when you are a lab dealing in dangerous virii and you fail to follow proper safety and hygiene processes, or have the right infrastructure and personel to do the job, you are allowed to say sorry and get on with your life, as long as you promise to make the necessary improvements.
When you are a hawker dealing in cooked food, and you fail to follow proper and hygiene processes, or have the right infrastructure and personel to do the job, you are slapped with a big "F" grade by the ENV and can lose your licence to make a living. The grades for hygiene are A, B, C, D and F**ked-up.
Hawkers should seriously consider upgrading themselves to do lab work. They already know how to wash dishes, it should not take a PhD to learn how to wash test tubes.
23. That no, I Am Not Lovin' It when I buy a Cheeseburger, a MacChicken, some Fish McDippers, a regular Ice Milo, and a regular Lime, all to go, and I only find ONE napkin inside the bag.
24. That the Singapore legal community is reviewing the costs and the lack of success of the eFiling system, a $15 million electronic legal paperwork submission system that tool 3.5 years to build, designed to cut waste and large volumes of paper.
To address this problem, eFiling fees are being lowered to encourage the legal community to use the system more. Truly the Singapore Way. When things do not work, give discount.
One of the problems plaguing it, aside from cost, slow and flaky performance, and time-consuming scanning issues, is the fact that very often, judges themselves ask for the hard copy of the paperwork anyway, nicely bound thank you, even if the documents have already been eFiled.
These are probably the same judges that have their email printed out for them to read everyday.
25. That Coca-Cola is planning a U.S. promotion which uses satellites to find buyers who have purchased special cans of Coke that are really Global Positioning System transponders. The prizes are Hummer H2 SUVs, and if you and your GPS Coke can are located, you will be given the prize in person.
That is a reassuring thought. Coca-Cola tracking my whereabouts. Good thing they are not planning it here in Singapore. There is enough surveilance here already (ERP Gantry cameras, Pre-ERP Gantry cameras, Speeding Cameras, GSM Location-triangulation...).
How does one opt-in or opt-out of being tracked (especially since you do not know you just bought a bogus can?
What if the guy who bought the GPS Coke was a criminal (or a guy visiting a sex shop secretly) trying to hide his location?
Will the winner be given his prize when drinking his can of Coke in the can?
What if the consumer drinks the Coke, and throws it in the trash can along the street? Does the trash can win the prize? Wouldn't that be a waste?
I thought GPS transponders are passive one-way devices that receive signals from GPS satellites, and do not transmit?
By Lee Kin Mun (Copyright 2004)