Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Singapore's inflation rate- Worse to come?

Hi Friends,

Of late, we have had a slew of shocking news about inflation rates hitting 16-year highs and even political leaders confirming that this would peak at 5 per cent early 2008.

This comes as no surprise to any of us. External factors like the US $100 oil barrels coupled with recent GST hikes to 7% and increased ERP rates of up to $5 (third hike in 2007,no less), must inevitably translate to higher costs of doing business and hence higher prices.

The mismatch in the supply and demand of residential and commercial properties certainly did not help to keep rentals down!

What is worrying is that most of us see this as only the beginning of an unhealthy upward trend and are not as confident as our leaders that this can be managed as planned.

In the recent parliamentary debate, the people were advised to choose cheaper alternatives to minimise the impact of rising prices. That is almost like Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France during the French Revolution saying,” Let them eat cake” when told that the peasants did not have any more bread!

Uncontrolled inflation arouses the spectre of hyperinflation like that of inter-war Germany ( see here & here) in the 1920’s. A loaf of bread that cost 2 marks in 1920, cost 430,000,000,000 (ten zeroes) marks in 1923. In pubs, Germans found that their second beer cost twice as much as their first, as prices rose hourly. When paid three times a day, workers hurried with their wheelbarrows of ever-depreciating currency to spend at the grocery before prices rose further. Those social upheavals were just what Hitler needed to get elected into power.

I admit that my anxiety is slightly exaggerated, but it is real. As are the concerns of our lower income citizens, who must once bear the brunt of yet another financial burden.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Singapore's tragedy in Cambodia

Hi Friends,

This is a sad weekend for Singapore, especially for the grieving families of our five fine Singaporean rowers.

The five,

Jeremy Goh, 24;
Stephen Loh, 31;
Reuben Kee, 23;
Poh Boon San, 27 and
Chee Wei Cheng, 20

are amongst Singapore's ablest and best and have died while representing their nation.

We share their loss.

Deepest sympathies also for the comrades of these five. The whole crew must have bonded as one during their intensive training and their sense of loss indescribable.

Life is short, Singapore.

Live it!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Official: 5 Singaporean Bodies Found
(Associated Press 25.11.07)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- The bodies of five Singaporean men who went missing when their boat capsized after a holiday race were pulled out of a Cambodian river Sunday, officials said. A sixth body, that of a Cambodian rower, was also found.

The Singaporeans' bodies were spotted floating downstream from the accident site in the Tonle Sap river in the capital, Phnom Penh, said police officer Mom Sitha, a member of the 150-strong search party.

"The bodies of the five missing have all been discovered," Mom Sitha said.

Grieving relatives gathered Sunday at Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital, where the bodies were being brought for autopsy.

Mom Sitha said the bodies were located at four different sites, from less than a mile to 2.5 miles south of where the five disappeared after their dragon boat capsized Friday.

There had been 22 Singaporeans on the boat, which had just completed the 1,640-yard course in the traditional Cambodian boat race festival.

The Cambodian rower drowned after his boat capsized Friday, said Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management. He did not elaborate.

Although there were no deaths last year, there have been a handful of fatalities previously associated with the race, which attracts a huge crowd of onlookers. Chea Koeun, a deputy director of the national committee that organizes the festival, said this year's number of deaths was the highest ever and included foreigners for the first time.

The accident occurred as the Singaporeans decided to continue rowing from the finish line to shore, according to Cambodian officials.

Nhim Vanda said the festival organizers had offered to tow to shore all the boats of foreign competitors after they completed the race. But he said the Singaporeans declined the offer, saying there was "no need because we still had the strength to row."

When their boat approached a pontoon serving as a pier, it hit swirling water and overturned, Nhim Vanda said. Police boats were able to rescue only 17 of them at the scene.

Singapore's navy sent a team of eight to assist Cambodian authorities in the search.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a message to his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, "conveying his shock and sadness" over the accident, Singapore's Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The Singaporeans were among eight teams from neighboring Southeast Asian countries that participated in the annual event. The accident occurred on the first of three days of racing.
Some 440 colorful dragon boats, mainly from across Cambodia, were racing to celebrate Cambodia's annual water festival, which marks the start of the rice harvesting season and the time of the year when the Tonle Sap river reverses its flow from north to south.

Five missing S'pore rowers feared dead
(Straits Times 25.11.07)

By Judith Tan, IN PHNOM PENH and Liaw Wy-Cin , IN SINGAPORE

WHEN the search for the five missing dragon boat racers in Cambodia resumes this morning, chances of finding them alive appear to be bleak.

It would have been about 40 hours since the boat carrying 22 Singapore dragon boat racers capsized in the river on Friday.

Singapore naval divers will be using sonar equipment to comb the Tonle Sap River near the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, together with local rescue workers.

According to eyewitnesses, survivors and race officials, the Singapore team was making its way back to the starting point, after the race, when the tragedy occurred.

Instead of waiting for a boat to tow them back, the team had decided to row towards shore themselves.

When they were close to shore, a wave hit them, causing the boat to collide with a pontoon and overturn. Team members were sucked under the pontoon. Seventeen racers surfaced and five did not.

The missing five are: Jeremy Goh, 24; Stephen Loh, 31; Reuben Kee, 23; Poh Boon San, 27 and Chee Wei Cheng, 20.

It is believed that a combination of strong currents and fatigue after the race could play a part in the likely drowning of the five men. They could also have been knocked unconscious when the 500kg boat capsized in the 9m-deep water.

The racers were not wearing life jackets.

One survivor who declined to be named said the team panicked under water and the current was pushing them down, so they all kicked their way upwards. He was treated for bruises on his face.

Eyewitness Joey Paraiso said on television last night that the current was strong. 'It happened so quickly. The Singaporean rowers, one by one, floated and saved themselves. There were some railings that they were able to hold on to.

'They were not able to swim normally, so they just looked for something to hang on to... The current was a bit strong,' he said.

The race was held to celebrate Cambodia's Water Festival, which takes place each year at full moon to celebrate the changing of the Tonle Sap River course.

This year, more than 1 million people were expected to attend the three-day race, which is Cambodia's biggest annual event. There were 432 participating boats.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday expressed his sadness at the accident.

'I share the deep concerns of the families of the five Singaporeans. The Singapore Government will do all it can to provide the necessary assistance,' he said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan said: 'Our priorities are to find the missing, to provide comfort to family
members and then find out what happened.'

Relatives of the missing men flew to Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon. On arrival, they went to the site of the accident before going to a hotel to be briefed on rescue efforts.

A brother of missing racer Jeremy Goh, who declined to be named, said Jeremy left for Cambodia on Thursday and was due back tomorrow.

He said at Changi Airport yesterday: 'We're just going there to see what's going on and hoping for the best.'

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Musings about Opposition parties and such

Hi Friends,

I was browsing through’s article on Party politics- A little ground shift when I stumbled upon Singapore Musing’s article entitled Opposition: Some suggestions for it.

I highly recommend it as a worthwhile read for the weekend. Do ponder over it. What is your take?

My feeling is if:

1. the economy continues on its pro-business track and is managed carefully and continues to grow in decent digits,

2. there are no major scandals occuring in the inner circles of the ruling party,

3. the official media (print and broadcast) is kept under a short leash - to allow just enough sense of “press freedom”. The govt is not worried (yet) about internet.

4. no charismatic figure/s appear in the alternative party side

5. racial tension amongst races and between new and old citizens are kept under control,

then PAP is in a class of its own and opposition parties have to be content with bit parts of this drama called Singapore politics.

Having said that, all bets are off if any of the above conditions are not met.

WP’s Low Thia Kiang- master strategist? Co-opetition anyone?

The PAP can feel secure for at least 20 years (as promised by WP’s Low).

But I thought it strange for Low,an opposition party leader to reveal his lack of ambition so openly. Or is it just a strategy to make PAP complacent. Is Low really an expert strategist offering the ruling party co-opetition instead of head-on confrontation, hence securing WP’s long-term survival?

Whatever it is, WP is opting to avoid the Red Ocean scenario where rivals slash and kill in a sea of blood, but instead looking at a Blue Ocean strategy- a new paradigm. Perhaps a Japanese LDP style politics? WP as just another faction of the ruling clique. PAP(WP) faction as opposed to PAP (Main) faction? A watch-dog to make sure the ruling clique does its work or else...

Enough of all these fanciful musings- In the meantime, WP and the others can just sit and wait for the right moment. And while at it, ponder over the contents of the post below...

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Suggestions For Opposition Parties (22.10.07)

There often is an undercurrent of chorus regarding the dismal state of opposition parties in Singapore. While part of the reason is due to the uneven political climate faced by these parties. There are other factors that they ought to consider as well if they desire to have any credible, successful chance of winning seats and representation in parliament. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive, and more suggestions will be forthcoming in the nearer future.

1. Stop Fighting among yourselves.

In a majoritarian system of parliamentary democracy where the winner takes all and the winner really is the person who finishes “first past the post” - 50% plus 1 vote. The first thing opposition parties should do would be to quit their own internally divisive agenda and to unify themselves as one. Efforts to conglomerate and unite various minority factions in society should be the first serious activity that they do. An example would be the 4 way fight in Cheng San GRC in the elections several years ago. Having a four way fight guarantees the incumbent party a win. A similar analogy in United States government would be how a third party candidate (libertarian party, independent, etc) takes a higher proportion of votes away from the two front runners. For example, Ralph Nader is said to have taken more votes away from Al Gore than George Bush in the 2000 elections - leading the way for Bush to claim the presidency. Within the context of a single-member constituency, the seats that opposition parties often target, there should be ideally just two candidates headed up for such contests - one from the PAP and one from the Opposition. No more and No less. Cooperative Game Theory strategies are obvious when it comes to such instances of maximizing polling victory. With too much internal strife and politics among the various opposition parties that bridge across economic, social, political-action and ethnicity. Its time that you guys got your act together and worked as a team instead of horizontally oppressing each other.

2. Focus on Bread and Butter Issues.

While enviable and admirable. The constant focus on human rights and Singapore’s actions in the international arena should instead be appealing to voters instead. And in Singapore, appealing issues are JOBS JOBS JOBS, WAGES WAGES WAGES. Period. Enough of the talk shop regarding censorship, Singapore’s International Actions, Freedom of Speech issues and so on. While these issues are very important. They aren’t going to strike a rapport with the Median and Mean of voters where abstractions of international theory and political philosophy is far removed from their hand to mouth existence, the need for healthcare and survival and what matters close to their hearts. It is far more important to focus on physical and critical issues rather than abstract political and social theory. No doubt, its very ideal to speak about such matters. But to the average Singaporean that comes forth for the rally and compares both parties at a glance. It simply boils down to this - which party provides a better economic platform for that particular voter. Its no surprise that elections are often held during good economic times. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that elections held during a time of economic difficulty often result in worst votes for the incumbent party. To get the largest share of votes, one has to focus on the issues that matter to the largest portion of people within the electoral district. The other philosophies on the agenda that appeal to a much smaller and intellectual politically concerned voters can be co-opted into the party’s plan. But ultimately, go where your electorate desires you to go to. Your voters are very often taxi drivers, hawkers, fresh university graduates, new families and those who are below the mean/median of the economic ladder. Do your research on the electoral district you are challenging and provide solid action plans. Not empty promises. Details Determine Destiny, as they often say. And in many cases, the opposition party in Singapore is often found to be loud in voice, but small in real practical action.

3. Recruit Talent across Minorities and Ethnicities.

Opposition Parties cannot continue to put their strongest candidates in Single Party constituencies alone. Since race and ethnicity is a factor in politics wherever you go, it would be better for opposition parties to get their act together in co-opting good quality talents to formulate possible group representative slates that can credibly stand for election. The word is CREDIBLE. In Singapore terms, and as much as this embodies elitism in many forms. This would mean a relatively well educated, articulate and knowledgeable person. While race and ethnicity should not be a factor in talent. The reality in Singapore is that it is. So instead of complaining that it is difficult to recruit across racial and ethnic boundaries, take action early on to make up for the anticipated difficulty in the future. If the opposition can credibly put forth a group of candidates in many electoral districts on elections day. What happens is that even if they do not win, they will start to gain a measure of credibility among voters. You need group candidates who can speak well, converse well and can give proper and good answers to the crafty questions in politics. Instead of fear-mongering, propose solutions. Instead of complaining about the current standards of governance, propose addition measures that may make the current means better. Even if these ideas are stolen and “co-opted” into the winning parties plan later on. It will be a triumph for integrity and a signaling measure of public policy credibility. Politicians are supposed to fix problems for their people. So quit whining about the issues and start fixing them. If you are tired of million dollar salary ministers, then do a better job than them and charge less at the same time!

4. Take a less combative role in politics. Instead, go upon the co-operational route.

While some may see this as a form of selling out. If an opposition member or an opposition party desires CREDIBLE and a respected place both in elections and in parliament. He should instead of vigorously and violently opposing all measure in local politics, instead take a softer stance of cooperation. Martin Luther King was known as a great civil rights leader in the philosophy of non-violence. However, without a violent reaction or oppression from the police (non-violent crackdowns are the norm in Singapore - with warnings and implicit threats like video surveillance being the norm) it will be difficult to gain credibility among Singaporeans if the state-dominated media label’s one as a troublemaker or martyr. Booker T. Washington is famous for his Atlanta Compromise as a way for African-Americans to gain a step ahead in civil rights. While they were not yet equal, they were able to work within the system and gains some concessions slowly through the period of time. Without a violent reaction or crackdown on opposition politicians by the PAP government in Singapore, the concept of a non-violent means of social protest will not work. Non-violence worked extremely well in the United States because the authority of the states government could be relieved and overruled by the Federal Government (see Selective Incorporation of the 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights). In Singapore you do not have this luxury of an independent judiciary that is free from the reigns of political pressure to rule in a free and open manner, especially in areas like politics. A good number of every-day Singaporeans have a high opinion of the courts in Singapore when it comes to commercial and other litigation areas. However, it is obvious that this might not be so in political arenas. Anyone desiring to know more can simply google or read the books by famous dissenters such as Francis Seow or Chris Lydgate. Instead of being seen as an antagonistic and hostile force in politics, the cooperational route has worked relatively well for people like Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Khiang and perhaps Steve as well.

5. Its not what you say. It is what they hear.

With a media that tends to favor the opinions of the government and is supportive of the government in Singapore. Opposition parties have to work much harder at building credibility as well. Especially among an “apathetic mass” of people in Singapore, we are highly educated in practical things - mathematics, engineering, medicine, law and so on. But not very well educated in other areas of the humanities like philosophy, politics, perhaps economics and psychology when you look at the population from a holistic perspective. While this might be a generalization, the important thing is that people tend to take what the Straits Times says - even if it is complete BS, for what its worth and use it as means to justify their personal political convictions. The availability heuristic in psychology would be a good explanation for this - with a populace that is not very familiar with the systems of government, the expectations of governance and politics in general, it will be difficult for them to relate to all the aspects of politics being discussed except in issues that they have a strong emotional attachment to - namely JOBS JOBS JOBS. MONEY MONEY MONEY. Economic Survival.

6. Get Young People Involved.

America’s Universities have been accused by republican lawmakers as the last bastions of marxism. Opposition Parties should stop treating youth as second class voters. There is no need for separate institutions to reach out to youth and young people. Get youth involved in the policy making process, the suggestion and feedback loop. Giving them a separate institution might be a nice idea to separate the idealism of young people from the reality of real world politics. But sometimes, actually in Singapore opposition political party terms - it might be more than necessary to put forth a grander dose of idealism and passion from the youth into the policy making process and the political argumentative formulations. The future of elections will not be decided by powerful or richer older segments of the population, but the youth, who are growing up into a different rapidly changing world and are exposed to western ideas, culture and have certainly travelled abroad and know what life in other parts of the world is like. The future and long-term viability of opposition parties will depend on their ability to educate, co-opt and ability to build credibility among youth. Again - while it is lovely to be able to talk issues of Fair Trade, Free Speech and Human Rights with them. Let’s go to what’s important to them. Jobs. Can the opposition parties come up with a credible solution to the whole “Relevant Experience” thing when it comes to getting a job? It seems that you can’t get a job without relevant experience and you can’t get relevant experience without job. Can the opposition parties in Singapore at least voice these concerns of everyday Singaporeans, especially young Singaporeans to the PAP Government and its brilliant ministers? This is what opposition politics needs to be - credible, articulate and knowledgeable about the concerns of their electorates. Instead of being merely a forum for idealistic talk shop pontification, its time opposition parties engaged issues of prior relevance in their discourse and quit treating young people as second class voting citizens.

7. Reach Out to the Youth

It is often said that Singaporean Youth are apathetic when it comes to politics. Why are they even apathetic? Simple. Have they been taught to consider a different perspective? An alternative? A Credible Alternative that does not denigrate into protests or non-violent action? Opposition parties need to do research on the youngest, most mobile and educated segment of the populace that will determine their political survival in the long term. Because they are inherently much more familiar with advancing technology. Reach out to youths using technology. A quick search on FaceBook in Singapore reveals that a good portion of Singaporeans are either “Moderates”, “Liberal” or “Very Liberal” under political views. The PAP, with its highly conservative rhetoric and panderings to the “older generation” under a confucianist ethic has easily separated its real world view of politics from the idealism enchanted by youth. This is a golden opportunity for youth to be educated about issues that they can feel more passionate about - issues of social change, justice, freedom of speech, gay and lesbian issues and their youthful concerns. In America, it is not unusual for 16-17 year old individuals to be actively involved in politics. Especially so when many of them can vote come the age of 18. National Servicemen fall into the category of youth too - as defined by the world bank to be individuals under the age of 25. Can opposition parties raise concerns for national servicemen? Such as issues of safety, issues of mental health, issues of transport and salary? Can opposition parties harness the latent energies of our national servicemen into politics? They may not be able to vote while they are serving. But come ORD. There is always the chance that reaching out to such youth can prove to be a powerful way of establishing credibility and gaining votes further down the road. The government easily alienates a good portion of national service youth during their times of service. Opposition Parties should harness their concerns and raise them in parliament or propose solutions to their duress of unfairness.

Ultimately, if opposition parties want to win representation in parliament someday. Its about time they cleaned up their act and started appealing practical issues to their electorates and champion a variety of solutions to the issues in politics. Opposition parties have to work harder in appealing to the youth of Singapore, because within another two electoral cycles, these individuals will have the capacity, mobility, knowledge and understanding and become a political force on their own. It is time to take advantage of the PAP’s appeal to “older Singaporeans” and “their loyal old voters” and to work aggressively in capturing the sentiments and issues of the youth. Additionally opposition parties need to work up on their issues of credibility. They need to field talented candidates that are well spoken, effective communicators and well versed in the solutions of public policy. Instead of working a fear-mongering or mud-slinging rhetoric or combative non-violent action, parties should be more cooperative while distinguishing their political views and solutions from the ruling party. Only time can tell if they are willing to work in unison to reach The Tipping Point and shift politics into their favor - even with a difficult political climate. Passion alone isn’t enough. It takes passion, determination and smart work to succeed in the battle it is for parliamentary representation.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Burma: Time for healing

Myanmar's Suu Kyi says 'time for healing' after meeting with govt officials

(AFP 10th Nov 2007)

YANGON : Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is optimistic after meeting Friday with a military official and believes it is time for the "healing process" to start, her party said.
The pro-democracy leader also met with members of her National League for Democracy for the first time in more than three years amid hopes of a thaw in relations with the generals who crushed street protests against their rule in September.
Aung San Suu Kyi met with three senior party members -- Aung Shwe, Lwin, Nyunt Wai -- and spokesman Nyan Win before meeting with Labour Minister Aung Kyi, whom the generals appointed as a go-between following international outrage at their deadly crackdown.
"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she believed the ruling authorities have the will for national reconciliation," Nyan Win said in a statement read out to reporters after the meetings.
"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the bad events in September and October were sorrowful, not only for the NLD, but also for the government and the people," Nyan Win said.
"She said we have to work for the healing process first. We also discussed the necessary things to achieve the healing process," he said, adding that he could not release details.
Military leader Senior General Than Shwe had previously offered dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi but on condition that she drop her support for international sanctions, which have been further tightened since the September crackdown.
"Regarding these demands, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she will try to get a solution for these demands," Nyan Win said.
Asked to compare a previous meeting in 2004 and Friday's, Nyan Win said: "This time the discussion is more optimistic and more workable," adding that it was also Aung San Suu Kyi's view following her meeting with Aung Kyi.
"The main thing we discussed is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi asked for suggestions from us regarding the dialogue process and we discussed the suggestions, Nyan Win said, adding he could not disclose details.
"We will continue to work with Major General Aung Kyi from now on," he said.
The meetings follow UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's six-day mission to Myanmar, which he said had led to progress towards establishing a dialogue between the military and the country's pro-democracy movement.
Aung San Suu Kyi, in a statement read out by Gambari in Singapore, said she was willing to cooperate with the military, which has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, for the past 45 years.
"In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success," she said.
It was the first such pledge since she was last put under house arrest in 2003.
Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero General Aung San, has spent 12 of the past 18 years under house arrest at her lakeside home in Yangon.
She welcomed the appointment last month of Aung Kyi as the government's go-between, describing October 25 talks with him as "constructive".
"I expect that this phase of preliminary consultations will conclude soon so that a meaningful and timebound dialogue with the SPDC (government) leadership can start as early as possible," said Aung San Suu Kyi, widely known as "The Lady."
Any dialogue with the military would be "guided by the policies and wishes" of her party, but she would also need to consult with other groups and ethnic minorities, according to her statement read by Gambari.
The Nigerian diplomat met Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday after warning the military against a return to the status quo that existed before the mass pro-democracy protests were put down.
His mission ended without a meeting with military leader Senior General Than Shwe, although the UN envoy met several officials and NLD members.
The pro-democracy protests began in mid-August after a massive hike in the price of everyday fuel, but escalated into the biggest threat to the generals in nearly 20 years when Buddhist monks emerged to lead the movement. - AFP /ls
My comments:
Hi friends,
I am glad that Gambari seems to be making some progress acting as a bridge between Daw ASSK and the junta.
I am pleasantly surprised that finally true reconciliation is not totally impossible without further bloodshed.
Let us not delude ourselves that the junta is just going to give up and leave the political sphere for ASSK's NLD to step right in. These control-freak dictators will use all their powers to ensure that their own interests are safe-guarded and protected.
This live drama is literally unfolding before our eyes. As they say, the plot thickens...
Akan datang ( Malay for "coming soon"). Stay tuned for the next episode.
Just happy for Burma and could not suppress my delight.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sarkozy's pay rise:French will flip if they know...

Hi Friends,

The French public reaction is expectedly negative to Sarkozy's doubling of his annual pay to S$480,000.

I wonder how they would react if they realise that this is but a fraction of what Singapore's political leaders earn.

I do not have our leaders' remuneration package ( maybe some kind soul can send me some data/links), but I remember it was a jaw-dropping, dumb-founding, obscene figure.
Anyway, France is France and Singapore is Singapore.

My memory is fading on this issue, but Singapore's leaders justification for these astronomical pay was one or all of these:

1.Market rate.
2.They are worth every cent of it
3.The total package is but a fraction of Singapore's GDP.
4.Idealism is dead, silly!
5.Cost-benefit analysis: They trade their loss of privacy for money,silly!
6.High pay prevents them from being corrupt ( yes they really said it!)
7.Other country's leaders are hypocritical ( and they are not) , as the former have hidden sources of income, go on lecture tours and write books after they leave office ( and they don't ?)
8.After Singapore's leaders leave the stage (if they leave the stage), they are not expected to use their past political influence to make money for themselves.

For the sake of readers who believe everything they read in our media, let me say that I believe that Singapore's leaders are not corrupt ( in the dictionary sense of the word).

Anyway, majority of Singaporeans accept their reasoning, so who am I to gripe about it, again?

I wrote about this hot topic in the not so recent past here


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

MPs grant Sarkozy huge pay rise (BBC)

The French parliament has decided to more than double President Nicolas Sarkozy's salary, to make it match that of the prime minister.
From 2008 Mr Sarkozy's salary will total 19,000 euros (£13,243; $27,453) gross a month, equivalent to what PM Francois Fillon earns. ...

Jokes, jibes and anger after Sarkozy pay rise

By Jon BoyleParis - President Nicolas Sarkozy came under fire on Wednesday for hiking his own salary by 140 percent while ordinary French people are struggling to cope with soaring prices for bread, milk and cheese.Lawmakers voted late on Tuesday to raise his salary from 8 457 euros to 19 331 euros a month or 240 000 euros a year, putting him on a par with his prime minister, Francois Fillon.

The government said the previous salary system was opaque, as the president drew on different funds to complement his official pay, and the reform would bring some much-needed transparency to the presidential budget ...