Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Persistent Myths - Singapore Myths

I don't mean conspiracy theories from the fringe lunatics (although those are persistent... and also mythical... )

I mean myths or ideas promoted by the authorities, experts, and people who we expect to know better or know things based on facts.

Apparently, some of their opinions are based on what they WANT to happen, or think SHOULD happen, rather than what can realistically happen. Or perhaps even what they need to happen POLITICALLY.

What I mean about "persistent myths" are something like what were uncovered by these Unconventional Wisdom, questioning conventional wisdom. Or persistent myths masquerading as "known truths".

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Top Ten Reasons Phey Yew Kok turned himself in after 35 years on the run

From a Facebook note/post(Note: Link may not work due to privacy setting by Facebook user.)

The man is 81 years old.

He has been a fugitive almost half his life - 46 when he fled.

Why did he turn himself in after all these years?

Top Ten Reasons Phey Yew Kok turned himself in

#10 He wanted to meet Amos Yee personally, before he dies.

#9  The money ran out.

#8 Three words: Pioneer Generation benefits

#7 The SEA Games closing ceremony made him nostalgic for Singapore

#6 Didn't you hear? MERS has arrived in Thailand!

#5 His Thai mistress left him.

#4 Medishield Life.

#3 He found out his Thai "wife" was having an affair with Yaw Shin Leong.

#2 Free medical in prison

And the number one reason he turned himself in and came back to Singapore:

He wants his CPF money back!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

GUTS 1: Moving towards Singapore 2.0. Part 3: Enterprising Singaporeans

The Grand Unified Theory of Singapore (GUTS) today 
and what We need to move to SG 2.0

Part 3: How to Get Singaporeans to take more Risk

Part 1 covered the problems of Singapore today - An Ageing population, rising costs of living, Inflation from an emerging, rising China, the problem of home ownership, falling birthrates, rising healthcare costs, and the Sandwiched Generation.

Part 2, considered what Singaporeans want. Or need rather. And why we are so kiasu. And why Meritocracy leads one to the Just World Belief, and why that leads to justifying inequality.

In Part 3, we ask, "How to get a Singaporean to take more risk?"  You may also want to read "The Third Freedom". which ends with the same question.

My Dental Surgeon - A cautionary tale?

The only certainty in life is uncertainty. Disasters, natural or unnatural, domestic or global can strike at any time and affect everyone, good or bad, smart or not, deserving or undeserving. Perhaps there is a role for government to provide a social safety net not because people are lazy "takers", but simply because misfortune strikes us all.

My dentist (or dental surgeon), who's in his sixties, had heart surgery a few years ago, recovered, but found that he had to carry on with his practice in order to pay off his hospital bills. Yes, he did choose to go to a private hospital, but it struck me that this was a doctor of dentistry (or whatever is the official qualification of a dental surgeon is), running his own business, presumably making a lot of money (or not. His rates were rather reasonable. Low even), but who still have difficulties when a medical or health crisis struck.

The Third Freedom

Singapore has been criticised for not having "Freedom". Specifically, Freedom of Speech/Expression, Freedom of the Press, and maybe freedom to chew gum.

Calvin Cheng rebuts this criticisms, pointing out that we do have Freedoms - Freedom from Crime, Freedom from poverty, Freedom from Religious Intolerance, Freedom from Unemployment.

This was, in turn, critiqued for conflating Freedom (or civil liberties) with Security (the Freedoms Cheng argued that Singaporeans have).

Previously I have argued that the first Freedoms, a.k.a. civil liberties are instrumental freedoms. They are a means to an end. They are intended to support the democratic process to ensure good government (this is a hope, a theory, not a guarantee)

The second Freedoms, or security, are what people REALLY want - Freedom from deprivation, Freedom from economic uncertainty, Freedom from crime and danger, Freedom from abuse, harassment, predation. In short, the Freedom to live our lives in a civilised manner, without having to deal with rudeness, intrusion, uncertainty, and fear.

Which is probably enough for most of us.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Nothing is Impossible (On Freedom of Expression Part 3)

I think it is incredibly sad that when it comes to Freedom of Expression, nothing is impossible.

But I an getting ahead of myself.

In Part One of this series of posts on Freedom of Expression, my point was that Freedom of Expression is over-rated.

Especially if the Freedom is also free from Responsibility.

You may have heard this wry observation about raising children: we spend 18 month encouraging them to stand up, walk, run, and speak. And then the next 18 years telling them to shut up, sit down and stop running around.

And the reason simply is this: Having the ability is one thing. Using the ability responsibly is the next thing. As Spiderman's uncle told him: "With Great Power comes Great utility bills".

Or maybe it was "Responsibility".

Monday, 8 June 2015

Why HKers are not as crazy about cars as SGers

During one of my lunch conversation with my colleague, he noted that HKers are not as crazy about owning cars as SGers.

He suggested that perhaps it is because HK has a good MTR system and people find it very convenient to use public transport so they do not feel the need to own cars.

Alternatively, he also suggested that HKers spend more on getting their homes so they can't afford to get a car. Which may be true (see chart below).

From "Home Prices and Inequality

The Chart shows that HKers pay 17 times their household income to buy a home. Singaporeans just pay 5 times. Our median household income is higher and the median home price is lower in SG than in HK.

So that may be a factor.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Freedoms, Liberties, Democracy - Why Everyday Singaporeans don't give a fuck about two of these.

A follow-up of sorts to this previous post on Democracy.

To be honest, I really do not want to write about Democracy. Again.

Most people don't understand it, and trying to establish common understanding of Democracy tends to make any post I write rather long.

Nor am I interested in writing a primer for Democracy. Most people won't read it or if they did they probably won't agree with some or all of it and you end up in a semantic argument over WHAT is Democracy.

Then there is Freedom. And Liberties. Or to be precise, civil liberties. (Which suggests that somewhere out there are uncivil liberties?)