Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nominated MP's- Boon or bane for Singapore?

The general public is invited to submit names of persons to the Special Select Committee of Parliament for nomination by the Committee for appointment by the President as Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP).

2 The persons to be nominated by the Committee shall be persons who have rendered distinguished public service, or who have brought honour to the Republic, or who have distinguished themselves in the field of arts and letters, sports, culture, the sciences, business, industry, the professions, social or community service or the labour movement.
(read on...)

B.The Nominated Members of Parliament scheme was introduced by Goh Chok Tong and approved by Parliament in March 1990. It allowed for the appointment of up to six unelected MPs for two years after which they can be reappointed. In 1997, the number of NMPs was increased to nine.
The idea behind the scheme was to allow citizens without party affiliation to participate and contribute to parliamentary debates without having to go through the electoral process. (read on...)

C. Some views from
i. singabloodypore
ii.WP's hammer-online

My comments:

Hi friends,

I challenge any reader to name more than 2 NMP’s in the previous parliament.

Most would blame their ignorance on the lack of impact that NMP’s have on their daily lives.

NMP’s represent no one. They do not have any constituencies. Heck, they are not even elected.

Although NMP’s were supposed to enrich our parliamentary debate by adding a non-partisan dimension, I am yet to be convinced that their introduction to the House has brought significant benefits.

To me, risks outweighed their benefits.

NMP’s are non-partisan- Really?

Firstly, many NMP’s were not even non-partisan. Many were actually card-carrying members of a political party. ( I wonder which?).

Granted that members of a political party do sometimes hold independent views, I do not recall many NMP’s of this party actually contributing many alternative viewpoints in past parliaments.

NMP’s speak for whom?

Secondly, since NMP’s are not elected, where is their credibility? Why should we listen to them, as they only speak for themselves. Although they are purportedly nominated by professional groups, academia, trade unions etc, I do not recall voting for any members of my profession to be put forward as NMP’s. I am fairly certain no university academics or trade unionist have been voted in by their peers in any open elections.

NMP’s undermine our parliamentary system

Thirdly, opposition MP’s play a vital and constructive role in our political system. Their role should not be undermined by NMP’s. These opposition MPs’ mandate are legitimised by the people’s vote unlike the NMP’s.

Solution- Elect all MP’s even (N)MP’s

One way to legitimise the NMP’s position would be to make them stand for election. Let a list of nominees be put before the people during the General Elections. Criteria for nomination should not be different from the present GE candidates and then let the people decide who they want sitting in the House. These MP's may not have any geographical constituencies to look after, but at least they have Singapore's mandate.

Of course, we would then have to look for a more appropriate name.

They would no longer be mere Nominated MP’s but Independent MP’s (IMP’s) … well, maybe somehow "Imps" does not sound quite right. Any suggestion?


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another man (Mirza Tahir Hussain) lives again (part two)...

Freed death row Briton flies out of Pakistan
(Yahoo News)
Friday November 17, 10:57 PM

A British man who spent 18 years on Pakistan's death row for a murder that he claimed was in self-defence was heading home after being freed, officials said.

Mirza Tahir Hussain, 36, left jail in the morning then flew out of Pakistan a few hours later amid tight security, following a decision by President Pervez Musharraf to commute his death sentence. (Read on...)

Adjusting will be hard for death row man
By Mark Simpson BBC North of England correspondent
18 November 2006, 23:10 GMT

Life in the suburbs of north Leeds will not be easy for Mirza Tahir Hussain.

The satellite dish on the wall outside his family's home is a symbol of the changing world which passed him by during the past two decades.

He is returning to a city where things we take for granted - like internet cafes and take-away cappuccinos - will seem completely alien.

When he left Britain in the winter of 1988, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, David Beckham was still in short trousers and the pop world was ruled by Wet Wet Wet and Phil Collins.

His family situation is now very different. He has four new nephews, a brother-in-law he has never met and, sadly, only one parent. (Read on...)

My comments:

Hi friends,

I was following closely the saga regarding Mirza.

It seemed even last week that this would be Mirza's last days in the prison. He has had reprieve after reprieve and it seemed that this stay of execution would surely be the last. He has prepared for the worst.

In my heart, I was already saying, "This world sucks!"

But what do you know? Miracles do happen after all, and often when we least expect it!

Now, Mirza's regaining back his life does not in any way negate the suffering he had endured in the past 18 years. No one can ever understand the agony and sense of hopelessness that he had to endure. Nobody can return him the years that he has forever lost.

Just watch the videos when he was interviewed with his brother and he looks totally overwhelmed and one can almost sense his "lossness".

I wish him well. Although he is a world apart from me, I am delighted for him.

He does not know any of us and neither did I know him from Adam till the past weeks when I got wind of his predicament.

But that is what humanity is about. We are of the same race- the human race. It matters not that Mirza is of a different race or creed, or even political persuasion. We are all human beings.

There is too much killing and murdering. And too little love and understanding.

Make love not war!

I bet you if I were born ten years earlier, and were an American, I would have made a convincing hippie at Woodstock!

Joy to the world.

For this week, the world sucks a little less,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One man dies (about Milton Friedman)... (Part one)

Milton Friedman: Free Market Thinker
BBC News)
The American economist, Professor Milton Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976, has been called the high priest of monetarism.

His death marks the passing of a giant in the world of economics whose approach to deregulation and free markets have become the centrepiece of economic policy across the world.
He was a major influence on the economic thinking of the governments of both Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, and has influenced the thinking of most central banks today. (Read on...)

My comments:

Hi friends,

Although my knowledge of economics is fairly rudimentary, I know that Friedman is best known for his advocacy of monetarist policies.

He was a leading exponent of the "Chicago school" which held that the supply of money was the key factor in determining economic growth and the rate of inflation and was critical of governments who try to control unemployment by spending more money. To him, excessive government (fiscal) spending to create demand, leads to inflation which would undo the effects that this spending sought out to achieve.

Economic growth , he argued, is best guided by the control of interest rates and other levers at the disposal of governments and central banks.

This brings him in direct conflict with another giant, John Maynard Keynes who is best known for advocating government intervention (fiscal policy) in the economy .

Friedman's greatest admirers included Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
( Remember Reaganomics and Thatcherism?)

Unbeknownst to most, Friedman says that his proudest accomplistment was not in economics but that he played a role in the abolition of the draft .

For the uninitiated, this draft is the same as Singapore's National Service.

This talented social commentator who mesmerised many with his broadcasts on social issues (Free to Choose) also campaigned for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Links : 1. The videos here are must-sees for budding economists.

Watch the videos if you have the time. It is good.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
Link: Holland village voice (Fabian Lua)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shock GST Hike to 7% will affect poor most

GST to be raised to 7%: PM Lee

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 13 November 2006 1832 hrs

SINGAPORE: The Goods and Services Tax will be increased to 7 percent from 5 percent presently. This was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament on Monday.

However, when the rise will be implemented, will be decided later.

Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English, Mr Lee explained that the hike was necessary to finance the enhanced social safety nets, needed to help the lower income group and he emphasised that the offset package would more than counter the rise in GST. (read on)

GST hike will be felt by businesses that absorb GST: KPMG

By Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 13 November 2006 2140 hrs (read on)

My comments:

Hi Friends,

Just when we thought that we can breathe a little easier, PM gives us a rude shocker.

We are told that the economy has turned the corner and that Singapore has even increased the number of millionaires on its shores (although a significant proportion are from Indonesia). MM Lee also proclaimed recently that he is very optimistic for Singapore in the next few years.

The Integrated Resorts has become the single factor that almost the whole of Singapore has identified as its engine of economic growth. I have not forgotten about digital media, water services and biomedical.

But let's be brutally honest, these other engines are mere sideshows compared to the Casinoes ( just calling a spade a spade). Hence, the Sentosa properties (notwithstanding leasehold status) sell like hot cakes and the previously stuttering property market got a welcome boost.

The stock market has also enjoyed a grand run recently and I am sure the housewives and the taxi-drivers will be lining up for IPO’s again.

Did I forget to mention that the leasehold Metropolitan condominium near Redhill MRT sold out during its soft launch? Or that high society’s “who’s who” are already trying to get invitations to Capitaland’s soft launch for the Orchard Turn project? So the HDB property market will be the next to move up?

The government has mastered this very useful skill. Get the good numbers out; MSM starts to churn out the good news; lull us into feeling warm and fuzzy; then give us a good surprise!

Ha ha, Works every time!

The worst off from this GST hike will (again) be the poor. This additional 2 % will affect them more than the rich. As mentioned by KPMG, more merchants will voluntarily register for GST and hence there will be less retailers/merchants who will absorb this tax. The middle-class will also want to claim that they will once again be forgotten by everyone except their creditors.

Granted that GST is an indirect tax that punishes only those who consume, but we don't need reminding that even the poorest or the most frugal still need to eat and use mundane household items.

The only ones to gain is (again) the government. Sigh!

There is no doubt that a balanced budget is important for continued economic growth. Didn’t I just read somewhere that the Inland Revenue people are having record collections from tax-payers? Be honest, have our low COE prices ironically done us in?

I am sure conspiracy theorists will be out in droves to (again) make their point that our reserves are not as vast and as secure as have been presumed, what with Shin Corp becoming a part ( now no doubt a long-term holding) of Temasek’s portfolio etc ( you get my drift?).

I think it is about time to consider exempting GST from stable foods and essential services (including medical service- ok, I declare my pecuniary interest here).

Nah! The government leaders have already made up their minds and this is just some futile ranting of another helpless and hopeless Singaporean.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: Or maybe there will be income tax cuts? ( sorry but I am an incorrigible optimist!)

Links to other blogs about GST Hike:
1. Gecko The comments are very informative

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lessons and observations after US mid-term rout

US Democrats secure sweeping win
(BBC News: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 23:43 GMT )

Democrats have gained the final seat in the battle for the US Senate, sealing their mid-term poll victory in both houses of Congress

Republican George Allen admitted defeat to his Democratic opponent, James Webb, in the close Virginia Senate race.

The Democrats had already secured the House of Representatives in Tuesday's elections.

President George W Bush has pledged to work with his rivals, and says he is open to new ideas on Iraq.

He has already accepted the resignation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, key architect of US policy in Iraq, following the poll defeat.
(Read on...)

My Comments:

Hi friends,

The just-concluded mid-term US elections that resulted in the Democrats sweeping into both the House of Representatives and the Senate was something only the most optimistic Democrat would have dared hope for.

The resignation (or sacking) of Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defence is also one of few lights at the end of a long and desolate tunnel.

Bush is now a lame duck. He has nothing to look forward to in the remaining two years of his term. He can only try to protect and preserve whatever legacy there is left.

In my opinion, the likely scenario would be like this:

1. Gates as the new Secretary of Defence would give Bush an excuse to make a 180 degree turn to consider some way of a face-saving way out of the Irag quagmire. Bush will declare bravely now that Iraq had undergone a democratic election ( and hence is a democracy by definition) and that justice has been meted out by the Sadam conviction, America had achieved a moral victory and can leave Iraq in the “able” hands of the Iraqis.

So adios and soyonara Baghdad! (Of course, the Iraqis would also ensure that Bush’s cronies in the oil business would get all the juicy contracts in order to feed America’s insatiable appetite for the earth’s fossil fuels whilst lining their corporate pockets simultaneously).

2. Now that Rumsfeld has “fallen on his sword” like the warrior of old, could Cheney be persuaded to do likewise?

The Republican Party would surely prefer that Bush use the remainder of his term to ensure a Republican successor to the White House in 2008. Perhaps a vice-President who has a real hope of stepping into the White House could use the next two years for exposure and publicity? Cheney could be persuaded to have a “ heart attack” or any other excuse ( vertigo or erectile dysfunction even).

3.Do not expect anything exciting from the world’s only superpower as there will be only political grid-lock and partisan politicking with each side neutralizing the other on all major policy initiatives.

Do not believe all the BS about “putting the past behind us” and “moving on” or other such talk!

4. America having been bitten once (again) by this second Vietnam, will not care to be involved in the rest of the world. It will be increasingly isolationist.We, the rest of the universe would just have to manage by our poor lonesome selves! Boo hoo!

Lessons that we can learn:

1.Public accountability- Rumsfeld takes the rap for Iraq. Who in Singapore takes the rap for major “boo-boos” in Shin Corp-Temasek saga?

2. There are none so blind as those that would not want to see.

Iraq was so glaringly a wrong war for America, yet the myopic Bush Administration thought that it could still pull the rabbit out of the hat even up to the last minute. Note Saddam conviction came out “coincidentally” 1-2 days before the polls were scheduled to begin.

In Singapore, what needless sufferings do the people need to endure before policies like “GRC as vehicles for weak PAP MP’s into parliament”; “continued disadvantages for citizens in non-PAP wards”; more “Tan Jee Suan’s” who are unable to benefit from Singapore’s ascent to the first world; Widening rich-poor divide etc. get the attention required?

Our new parliament ( literally too) has just come into session and some new MP’s have given seemingly “impressive” maiden speeches. We will see how much of the talk will result in anything concrete for the benefit of the common folks.

I will give the benefit of the doubt to all and sundry in the new Parliamentary chambers ( on both sides of the political divide ) and will not prejudge anyone.

Let us see how the government leaders respond to these back-benchers’ appeals.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Harry's Island!- Is Eighth Wonder really serious??

Eco-friendly resort with unrivalled attractions promised by Eighth Wonder

By Yvonne Yong,
Posted: 31 October 2006 1826 hrs

SINGAPORE: A childhood fantasy that everyone gets to share in - this is the proposal by Eighth Wonder for their S$5.5 billion Integrated Resort on Sentosa.

Harry’s Island, as the resort will be called, is based on the fictional founder of the resort, "Hurricane" Harry O’Brien, who was born in Raffles Hotel in 1900.(read on...)

My comments:

Hi friends,

When my colleagues at the tea-room told me that one of the contenders was going to name their resort "Harry's Island", my first reaction was,
"You guys gotta be kidding!!"

Unfortunately, truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Eighth Wonder, the erstwhile dark horse ( favourite is apparently Genting with its Universal Studio bid), is really going for broke and is resorting to what I would consider a "cheap trick".

Harry, if you do not already know by now, is the name that our first Prime Minister, called himself when he was studying in the UK. I do not know why or when he stopped using the name.

So, what does Eighth Wonder hope to achieve by using the namesake of MM?

What would the panel members of the selection committee think now that they are essentially faced with Hobson's choice?

If Eighth Wonder's bid is chosen, would the rest of the world think that it was chosen so as to honour MM with a resort? Would they dare reject the bid as it may be deemed to be a rejection of MM's legacy?

Eighth Wonder's S $5.5 Billion bid, looks impressive as it is. There is no need to resort to cheap marketing ploys like this. By so doing, it reveals the people of Eighth Wonder for what they are- lowclass desperados!

For the sake of transparency and public accountability, I hope that Eighth Wonder's bid comes in last, even behind the hideous "whatchumightcallit" of Kerzner!

And to rub salt into raw open wound, I hope the chairman of the selection committee would say,
" We would have chosen Eighth Wonder if not for their distasteful stunt"
Nah-nah nah nah nah-NA !

May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in the Eighth Wonder's chairman's armpits!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam sentenced to death, but Bush, Cheney and Rumseld please bring your troops home!

Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging

POSTED: 5:07 a.m. EST, November 5, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi High Tribunal on Sunday sentenced former President Saddam Hussein and two other defendants to death by hanging for a brutal crackdown in 1982 in the Shiite town of Dujail.

Iraqis, under a curfew in Baghdad, spilled out onto the capital's streets in celebration of the verdict, news footage showed.

Along with Hussein, his half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan, and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar also got death. ( link to read on )

Dear friends,

This verdict is not unexpected.

The trial has been termed by skeptics as a form of victors’ justice, as the US, being the occupying force, has an interest in a guilty verdict.

The timing of the verdict, coming days before the US mid-term elections, is highly suspect especially as Bushes’ Republican Party is at imminent risk of losing its majority in the Congress due to widespread public disquiet over the administration’s handling of the Iraq conflict.

Let us make no bones about it. Iraq is now a full-blown civil war with no settlement in sight. Scores of Iraqis are slaughtered for no reason other than that they belong to different offshoots of Islam. Together with these dead Iraqis, numerous Western troops are also going home in coffins, never ever to see their homelands again.

As things stand, the Sunnis and Shites will not be able to live in any semblance of civility. Iraq faces a fractured future with the possibility of it being fragmented into many pieces.

Bush entered this conflict on the false premise that Saddam has WMD-“weapons of mass destruction” and this has been found to be a dastardly lie! The tragedy of September 11 allowed the Texan cowboy to take advantage of the groundswell of “knee-jerk nationalism” to order the US military into her second Vietnam.

This Vietnam,would prove just as costly and as painful as the first. There is no way out but for an unequivocal withdrawal. There is no graceful way out. Just run with the tail between the legs and blame the cowboy and his posse.

It is tragic that American, British and other coalition troops’ lives have to be sacrificed due to the actions of these untruthful and incompetent American politicians.

I have always considered Americans as friends (although occasionally some can be self-centered and arrogant). America is still the world’s greatest nation but I marvel at how this world's only superpower finds itself in the hands of dubious men again and again.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, if you can hear me, for the sakes of your own men and women, admit your foolishness and please go home!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS. Read George Yeo's comments of the Sunni-Shite divide ( written before the verdict was known)