Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme: Changes needed

 
Dear Friends,
Now that the dust has started to settle after the dramatic GE2015, I have some thoughts on how the Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme can be improved to better reflect the aspirations of the electorate.
Click link here.

I do not think many will disagree that there is still a desire by the electorate for diversity of views in the parliament notwithstanding the convincing win by the ruling PAP.

To help ingrain the NCMP scheme so that it is not just perceived as a token to satisfy the wish of a segment of the electorate who clamour for multi-party democracy (ie to add legitimacy), I propose the following:
  1. NCMP’s should be allowed to vote on all matters including the following which they are presently denied :
Amendments to the Constitution.
Any motion pertaining to a bill to amend a supply bill, supplementary supply bill or final supply bill.
Any motion pertaining to a Bill to amend a money bill.

However in my opinion,the present last two exceptions of voting on motions of no confidence in the Government and removal of the President from office should still remain.

      2. As NCMP’s will now have full legislative duties and only differ from other MP’s by not having a community role (they do not have constituents to look after), their remuneration should be raised from the present 15% of a MP’s allowance ( which is rather derisory)  to at least 50%. (Note: Present annual allowances of NCMP  & MP are $28,900 and $192,500 respectively). They should have similar perks including funds to employ legislative assistants etc.  

       3. NCMP scheme might also be expanded to include not just opposition party MP’s but also ruling party MP’s. For example if up 18 seats are allocated for opposition party MP’s and NCMP’s (present parliament has 9 allocated seats) and opposition MP’s only won 12 seats outright by “First Past the Post” method, the next 6 highest candidates ( from any party) will be allocated NCMP seats. The house will benefit from the contributions of good quality NCMP’s from either side of the political aisle.

        4. Office-bearers should be allowed to be selected from NCMP’s hence giving more choice for the government of the day.
   
        5. All NCMP positions must be filled and not left vacant as the present scheme already ensures a minimum standard in that the present NCMP-elects must have garnered at least 15% of the total number of votes

With these improvements, Singaporeans will benefit from the contributions of NCMP’s in the current term of parliament and furthermore , the electorate can decide if they also want these NCMP’s to play a community role as their MP’s come the next General Election

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, September 06, 2015

AHPETC: TC statistics show WP can run TC's #ge2015 #sgpolitics




Hi Friends,
LTK playing "victim" again?

Straits Times Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwong likens this weekend as Half-time in GE2015 football match and that at 0-0, 

“ It is unlikely any party can come up with a brilliant move that will change the course of the GE….  it may be more important not to score an own goal by making a mistake or a misstep..”

To most of us, what is infinitely worse than losing by an own goal is when the match is won by a dubious goal eg Maradona’s Hand of God

Other non-football analogy is winning election by dirty tricks eg Taiwan 2004 when Taiwan’s DPP incumbent Presidential candidate Chen Shui Bian won by sympathy votes after a widely believed to be a staged assassination attempt (3-19 incident ).

Let me state here and now that I believe all our past elections were clean and won/lost fairly and squarely.
Going back to football analogy, in Singapore it is widely acknowledged that the MSM had played a role ( many believed unfairly) in the past. But this could be changing ( see my previous post)

However another force is counter-balancing MSM and that is new media (bloggers, blog aggregators) and to this end I like to refer to one blog post that could essentially be the deciding goal (game changer?) for the WP-PAP faceoff in the East. 

The above is an excellent article which collated the Income Statements from all the Town Councils for the Financial Years 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 to compare 4 vital aspects of TC management and how AHPETC ( Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council) compares with the other PAP-controlled town councils.

1) Conservancy & Service Fees
In 2013, AHPETC was the second "cheapest" town and it was ranked 11th most expensive (out of 15 Town Councils) in 2014.

2) Total Operating Expenditure
In 2013, AHPETC was the second most penny pinching town and it was ranked 10th in spending per electorate in 2014.

3) Government Grants
The Town Council which received the most "government support" in 2013 was Ang Moh Kio TC which comprises of Ang Moh Kio GRC and Seng Kang West SMC, while AHPETC placed last.


In 2014, The top place went to Tanjong Pagar TC which comprises of Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC. AHPETC was placed 13th.In this sense, AHPETC has received less support from the government per electorate than most Town Councils.


4) Operating Deficit
In 2013, AHPETC was placed 10th. It incurred less deficit than 5 other TCs and is among the top 67th percentile in terms of deficit management. However, in 2014, AHPETC was placed last. There was a $9 increase deficit per voter from 2013 to 2014.


The author Lam said:
“ In conclusion, AHPETC experienced marked increase in operating expenditure in 2014. However, AHPETC performs above the average Town Council in terms of tax burden and operating expenditure per electorate. Furthermore, AHPETC is among the bottom 20% or the lowest in terms of support from the Government through Government Grants.”


In a nutshell, to family member “A” and many like her who were very perturbed by what they heard from the PAP leaders that WP cannot be trusted as their TC management was in shambles, this article will help to clear this doubt out of the way and they can assess the parties on other criteria.

What about the latest accusations about the presence of surpluses or deficits of Hougang & Punggol East respectively when the 2 SMC’s were merged into Aljunied TC, I believe the WP could have been mistaken about Punggol East and they were premature to accuse PAP of “creative attitude towards the truth”  ( quoting Kenneth Jeyaratnam (KJ) referring to Han Hui Hui (H3)  and hence owes PAP either a retraction, apology or some explanation. See PAP rebuttal here 

On the other hand, PAP also owes WP a retraction about Hougang’s deficit. See here  So no win no lose.

So like the time in the playground 50 years ago when I quarreled with a kampong friend, let’s leave it at : 

"No, You say sorry first! Howzat?"

Remember, we are all Singaporeans and we try so hard to win because we love Singapore!

Cheers,
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Friday, September 04, 2015

PAP and MSM no longer on the same page? MSM loosens shackles? #ge2015 #sgpolitics


 

Hi Friends,
1. AHPETC- it goes on ad nauseum and I continue to puke

The #GE2015 is in full swing and like the rest of the Singapore I cannot escape from hearing about the AHPETC ( Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council) saga. The 6 letters A.H.P.E.T.C haunt all of us to no end!

I will not bore you with the details but it is essentially a “he say… but she say.. and then he say.. she say etc.”sort of scenario.  Yawn! I think you get the picture. It is a stalemate mate!

Can I give the PAP a piece of advice- stop harping on it already! If you think the WP MP’s are all a bunch of crooks, please round them up and send them to jail already!
Saying that we should set higher standards ( than who? You?- you are kidding right?) than just not going to jail ( said LHL/KBW/S), or that it should not just be meeting the letter of the law but also the spirit of it ( NEH), is a bit hard to swallow, esply coming from the PAP, which is not exactly a role model ( to say the least).

I can’t think straight now, but off hand, PAP had Op Coldstore; Op Spectrum; YOG;  Brompton; Withdrawal of services from Hougang/PP / AIM/ AGO on PA etc.
Is there double standards? What do you think?

So besides believing the PAP (swallowing the bait, hook and sinker)  , that the PAP’s hearts are pure and virtuous, we are to believe that the WP’s are black and dirty?

What was mentioned by PAP and conversely by WP could plausibly be true ( depends on whom you speak to) … Now it just boils down to …
Either you believe it or not!

A favourite author of mine Murakami said in 1Q84 :
“If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.”

Or like Gerald Giam ( WP Candidate for East Coast GRC) said :   
“And just because the PAP does not want to accept our explanations does not mean we haven't explained”

2.PAP has done this before but why does it not work this time?
PAP has done this before in previous GE’s ( no surprise) eg James Gomez; JBJ; Tang  etc

But why is it different this time round compared to previous GE’s?  The MSM ( Maintream Media) or traditional media eg ST/Mediacorp etc is not having anymore of the status quo… The press wants freedom and democracy as much as the next guy? Is it possible?

I spoke to a SPH journalist and said that

The **** ( name of the newspaper) seem to be fairer to all sides this GE? . The journalist ( the sex hidden to hide the identity) said that in this day and age of the new media, **** has no choice. Readers will read from other sources ( or watch other video channels) if they deemed MSM being PAP’s mouthpiece.

BTW-Straits Times started as being anti-PAP!

Some one chided me that I should not praise journalists for just doing what they are supposed to?

But I am a hopeless optimist (naïve you say?)  and I feel that with the encouragement of the people and competition from new media, MSM eg Straits Times, LHZB , Mediacorp etc can step up to the plate and play its roles as the “Fourth Estate”

3. Singapore’s MSM is now our Fourth Estate? (don't laugh)
The “Fourth Estate’s” coinage has been attributed to Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797), a British politician. It comes from a quote in Thomas Carlyle's book, "Heros and Hero Worship in History" (1841).

"Burke said that there were three Estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all."

The three estates in the above quote referred to the British parliament,( the Lords Temporal, the Lords Spiritual and the Commons). The Lords Temporal and the Lords Spiritual combined being The House of Lords, the upper House of parliament. And the Commons is The House of Commons or the British lower House.

Am I naïve and will time prove that the MSM has a last trick up its sleeve and is just lulling me into a false sense of security and then pulling a fast one just before 9-11?

4.… but just in case I am wrong

Then I say, on Cooling off day (Sept 10)- do not watch or read any Singapore originated newspaper nor listen/watch any Mediacorp news broadcast.

Do we have to be do cynical?

May the best candidates win! Majullah Singapura!

Let's celebrate or mourn whatever the results may be and live and fight another day!

Oh.. don't forget we are all Singaporeans and we are doing this because we all love Singapore!
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Friday, August 07, 2015

Horse-trading and other fleshy image(rie)s : Pre-GE2015 #WWNW #butilovesingaporemore





Dear Friends,


This is the start of a long weekend where there is nothing to see nor do! Sigh!


"Horse-trading" 

The term “Horse-trading” used universally for events (almost always just before impending elections) when political parties come together to carve out territories that they are set on contesting. This immediately connotes an image of butchers carving out meat or worse of hyenas circling carcasses of animals before they lunge forward to grab pieces for themselves. All this imagery is very unfortunate as politics is serious business where all who were gathered only have the goodwill of the nation on their minds.

Hence, that being the case, my humble opinion is that all serious minded parties (and the 2 that most come to mind are the WP and SDP.  SingaporeFirst is really promising and I really wish SPP well) should really stop this “ thingy”.

WP and SDP are serious parties who really want to achieve something for the good of Singapore. If their mission is that their path towards Singapore attaining true mature democracy include winning ‘blah blah” constituencies during the GE ( which , may I remind you, only comes once half-decadely ) why should their plans be modified to accommodate some other party. I am by nature a very nice guy, who seldom pour cold water or be wet blanket ( or be slimeball ) etc.

I do not like to disparage any Singaporeans who are in opposition politics as this is already courage in itself. So if those other guys do not get the message already and come out GE after GE to try to win back their deposits,  then do they not deserve to get 3- or even 4 cornered!.  ( A really uncanny imagery comes to mind of someone who puts a 100 bucks on a bench and goes walkabout , then comes back 10 minutes later to see if it is still there). Phew! Lucky I got back my 100 bucks or damned it- some thief stole my money . Boo hoo hoo!  They try again 5 years later! Come on already!

In most mature countries (ok- some will argue that we are anything but this), each ward is contested by all the major parties. In the UK, we do not expect the Lib Dem to horse trade with Labour to rob the Tories of a win? Heck (I mean, well), the Greens are there , as are eccentrics like Looney Tune Party ( or whatever). Hence when the time is right (either due to economy cycle or strong leadership or even Falklands war etc), parties win or lose and the people's wishes are heard and the nation moves on. 

This come-together of strange bed-fellows (to me) is only defensible in tyrannical regimes , eg Syria or Nazi Germany , where your enemy’s enemy is your friend and your only aim is the overthrow of the despot and after that all bets are off? Are we there already? Look at Libya and Iraq… overthrow the tyrant, then what?

How did the PAP go from an opposition party to the ruling party it is today ( some say,  they played dirty and were ruthless etc) ? Did they go from GE to GE giving way to other parties each time? 

We need serious political parties who seriously have a serious plan: 

We need serious parties to become credible parties with fire in their bellies to be ready to rule at a moment’s notice. We need alternative policies ( not good enough to say, we like PAP policy but we will be better…). We need parties to come out of shadows and to have Shadow ministers for all portfolios so that Singaporeans can know where they stand on issues like economy, education, taxation, foreign affairs, ISD, press freedom, right to protest etc.

She is not Nicole! NS would not dress like this at this event! Duh! WWNW

On a more serious note, it has come to my notice that there is a comparison between Nicole Seah and a young lady named Kevryn. This is unfair… for Nicole. Nicole ( and to some her mother too, ) will forever remain etched in our collective memory of what we want from a young Singaporean. Articulate without being show-offish, glam without being crass. Gorgeous without needing to shorten her skirt! We really miss Nicole. Join PAP or whoever you want. Singapore needs you!

Kevryn Lim, on the other hand…

Most understand that many young people model ( for money or for any other reason that slips my mind now), and these Singaporeans may still rightly aspire to be our future leaders. But to turn up for a political event in an unparliamentary outfit , full knowing the presence of the press, is ( almost) political suicide. No need Long sleeve or cover ankle... just think WWNW ( What Would Nicole Wear?) 

Perhaps it’s just me, or it is also true to my very few readers who are (is) still reading this, that political parties always try to be politically correct ( which I actually think is so passé ) ? Someone from my daily coffee club says that actually what Kavryn wore was not revealing enough ( I think he was joking but I cannot be sure)!


So perhaps, I was expecting some words from Ms Lim to try to ameliorate with words what her dress could not, but apparently, she is feisty and is fighting on (there is hope in this young lady – perhaps I should just ignore what little cloth I see). 

Read these feisty words from Kevryn ( here)  Perhaps Kevryn is thinking " What does not kill me makes me stronger! " Nietzsche or Kelly Clarkson ( if you must).

Then let the voters decide- put her in Macpherson against the aunty killer PAP’s Tin Pei Ling! 

Anyway- congratulations to Tin Pei Ling (another very feisty politician) who is now proud mother of a bouncy baby boy! 


Cheers,

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, August 02, 2015

#butilovesingaporemore : EBRC needs to change to reduce gerrymandering stain

Dear Friends,



When the report of the ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES REVIEW COMMITTEE  (EBRC) was presented to parliament as a white paper on 24th July 2015, there was understandable skepticism from a sizable segment of the population.


For instance, in a Sunday Times article (The new GRC: Jalan Besar 2nd Aug 2015), it was noted that Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew’s Moulmein ward has all but disappeared into 3 different GRC’s ( Tanjong Pagar/Holland-Bt Timah/Bishan-TP). Of course all of us know Lui helms the ministry that is closely related to SMRT’s recent hiccups. I do not need to remind all about another ward ie Joo Chiat, as it will soon be a distant memory ( disappearing into Marine Parade GRC).
My previous post about Gerrymandering click here.

Whether this skepticism was justifiable is a point for further debate as the government did point out that the opposition was not obviously disadvantaged as Worker’s Party (WP) held wards were left intact as was Potong Pasir which Mrs Lina Chiam of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) lost by the slimmest of margins in GE 2011.


That there was concern about the neutrality of the committee is not unexpected as the chairman was after all Mr. Tan Tee Yong, the Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, although the rest of the committee were experts who would generally be needed to provide professional input for such a report.


They were Dr Cheong Koon Hean – Chief Executive Officer, Housing Development Board (HDB), Mr Tan Boon Khai, – Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
, Ms Wong Wee Kim – Chief Statistician at Singapore Statistics and Secretary, Mr Lee Seng Lup – Head of Election Department.


A few clarifications would help reduce accusations of gerrymandering and to  preserve the good standing of Singapore:
  1. What were the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the EBRC report
  2. Other than the TOR, it would be wonderful if the EBRC could confirm that no other inputs eg which may benefit or vice versa any political parties, were considered.


I humbly suggest the following:
  1. As in the UK (Boundary Commissions)  and Hong Kong (Electoral Affairs Commission), such a committee should be headed by a judge. NB In the UK, allthough the Speaker of the House of Commons is the ex officio Chairman, he takes no part in the proceedings and the Deputy Chairman of the Commission, who presides over Commission meetings, is always a Justice. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundary_Commissions_(United_Kingdom) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_Affairs_Commission
  2. The minutes of the EBRC should be open for public scrutiny.
  3. EBRC should be convened at fixed intervals, eg 5 yearly


I also long for the day when the Elections department is run as an independent body ( unlike being under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) now). Should I be optimistic or follow some people’s advise who say I need to wait “long long” (Hokkien vernacular).


The processes of public affairs should not just be fair but also seen to be fair.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: #butilovesingaporemore : the reason why I speak up. It is not because i do not like the PAP . In fact there are many aspects of the PAP that resonates with me.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#butilovesingaporemore : why i press on

Dear Friends,

Singapore has done well compared to the ‘hood (ASEAN)

Personally I have done well compared to many of comparable ability in the hood. This I thank Singapore.

I appreciate that and have paid forward by serving my fellow human beings in which ever communities I have been placed in.

PM Lee Hsien Loong, his 2 DPM's are capable honest men who have Singapore’s well-being at heart.

The next rung of the ruling echelon esply the 4 young guns are promising ...

Lest we forget :

But I remember what it was like when the PAP held absolute power.

1.When they held 100% of the seats or at most had J B Jeyaratnam (JBJ) (WP) and Chiam See Tong (CST) (then SDP) for sparring partners ( some say punching bags).

2. Graduate mother policies… (children of graduates have priority in elite schools.)
Non-graduate mothers in many cases were pressurised in dubious circumstances to undergo surgery to their reproductive systems to prevent further childbirth

3. Opposition wards do not get use of people’s tax monies for HDB upgrading…

3. Politicians hounded and bankrupted in very controversial circumstances...


Not there yet:
Many obnoxious legacies  still remain:

1. Stranglehold on the media Link to Wiki on Sg Media

2. Role of People's Association grassroots movements:  even in wards won by the non-PAP parties, the use of people's tax monies are controlled by PAP politicians Link to role of PA in non-PAP ward

3. GRC (Group Representative Constituency)  : one ex-PM famously said that this allows PAP candidates to get into parliament on the coat-tails of Minister candidates. If not, few PAP candidates will be willing to stand for fear of losing. Yes, he really said this! Link to what GCT said about GRC

4. Highest politicians' salaries in the world for which (IMHO) few of the politicians deserve


Job only half done:

Hence it is my reasoned opinion that if not for the threat of further defeat at general elections, the nascent reforms by the PAP would not have seen the light of day.

Pluralistic multi-party politics must be supported and nurtured by Singaporeans. It is much too early in the day to stop supporting non-PAP politicians , although none of them are perfect.

I like the recent government reforms and appreciate that all MP's ( even PAP ones) try their best for their residents.

I like PM Lee and the DPM's ( esply the one in the west and would support him if he is called to be PM one day) ...

But #butilovesingaporemore.

Cheers,

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: Using the hashtag #butilovesingaporemore, I will share my thinking about the state of Sg over the next crucial few months.

Friday, March 27, 2015



HOW IS IT?


How is it that bitter pills past,
No longer taste as bad.
And chiding words to ears harsh then,...
Now only sound a little sad.



How is it that not just friends
But foes line round them streets,
To show we now truly know
Most what's done then was what we need.


How is it that now tis clear,
Whilst still awake you do divide,
When sleep comes as it surely must,
As one tribe, we strangely unite!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan
26th March 2015
(On the 4th Day)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Out with old and irrelevant and IN with the new (House cleaning)

Dear friends,

It is customary to do spring-cleaning as another year comes to an end.

Hence I have had a belated look at my blog-roll and was “astounded” ( to quote Minister Khaw Boon Wan) that some of the blogs linked via my blog here are dormant ( or even deleted).

This is as good a time as any to remove the old and add the new.

If there are any noteworthy blogs that I should include, pray do let me know ( and maybe let me know why you feel that way)…

BLOGS TO BE REMOVED:

http://www.littlespeck.com/ ( no longer in cyberspace)

http://www.publichouse.sg/ ( no longer in cyberspace but Andrew Loh is around in TOC)

http://wherebearsroamfree.blogspot.sg/ (gone private- by invitation only)

http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/ (shut down due to MDA trouble but morphed into  https://berthahenson.wordpress.com which I will add)
  
http://journalism.sg ( dormant since 2013). Cherian George is now Professor in Hong Kong after Singapore’s own university refused to award him tenure for his academic post at NTU. This is ironic as Singapore was “crying father & crying mother” about how few Singaporean academics there are in our universities blah blah blah…

http://siewkumhong.blogspot.sg (dormant since 2013)


http://tankinlian.blogspot.sg (dormant since july 2014)

http://singaporemind.blogspot.sg (dormant since 2013) I really miss Lucky Tan’s incisive comments and thoughts about Singapore.

http://gigomole.blogspot.sg (dormant since 2013)

BLOGS ON "WATCH-LIST TO BE REMOVED"

http://thereformparty.net (dormant since 2012)

http://www.nsp.sg/ (website is down but NSP just elected a new CEC so akan dating)


NEW BLOGS TO BE ADDED:


http://singfirst.org (SingaporeansFirst Party)

https://berthahenson.wordpress.com (Henson’s blog after she shut down Breakfast Network due to MDA trouble)

https://gintai.wordpress.com (Taxi driver: on how Singaporeans really feel)

http://www.tremeritus.com (Anti-PAP slant)

http://therealsingapore.com (Anti-PAP slant)


http://mothership.sg (Sg digital news)


http://theindependent.sg (Sg digital news)

Cheers everyone and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Huat Ah!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sengkang Columbarium Model (SCM): Is this PAP’s Theory of Everything (ToE)?


Dear Friends,

Theory of Everything
In theoretical physics, the Holy Grail has always been the Theory of everything ( ToE), the single all-encompassing theory that purports to link together all aspects of the universe.
One of the theories is the aptly named “string theory” that strings together (duh) everything that (until some future “Eureka  moment”) had eluded everyone about God, the origin of Life or even the Meaning of Life. Click here.
Epiphany
I had such a moment of epiphany or “A-Ha moment “ this evening when I was reading something from social media while killing time when the wife was testing various varnishes for her toe nails at Sephora at Great World City.
Khaw's Assumptions and Butterfly Lovers
I was, of course reading, about Minister Khaw’s Assumptions (here ) and how he is into seeking religious wisdom and meditation and how Butterfly lovers (click here) had fooled or lulled even one as intelligent as his team at MND into awarding  “Eternal Pure Land Pte Limited” (EPL)  as the winner of the tender to build a “Chinese temple”- not withstanding the fact that EPL’s forte was funeral homes and Columbariums . It’s probably just coincidental that EPL is domiciled in Australia and … oh yes, it’s bid was irresistibly the highest. Click here  

My epiphany occurred in the mall corridor outside Sephora ( I do not have any commercial interests here nor do I varnish my toe nails) when I read about how the new HK “Gleneagles “ hospital that IHH - the successor of Parkway Holdings ,had won in a HK tender, had to fulfil certain conditions including ensuring the hospital remains affordable to Hongkongers by certain price control mechanisms. Click here:(New Aberdeen hospital to provide affordable services for 2/3 of HKérs)

Here comes the String which ties Singapore to HK and PAP to Raffles Hotel…
HK is not like Singapore

New HK hospital
How is it that when the ultimate capitalist land on earth ( HK) can stipulate how a winner of a land tender must control its pricing but when Singapore sold it’s last major piece of land for a private hospital at Novena ( now called Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital-) not to be confused with Mount Elizabeth Hospital ( not Novena)) that Parkway  has a free hand in deciding to have only single-room suites ( including one $17000 per night suite) catering for the uber-rich and is allowed to charge whatever it deems fit. I do not presume it is high but I “assume” it is ( pun unintended) ? Why? Click here. A very senior Parkway official even hosted me for a meal ( over cheap lunch) after my letter was published by the Straits Times, and explained why Parkway had some assumptions ( my lips are sealed) which led them to pay the government Sg $1.25 billion (for the land) and why they have only single rooms ( to earn money duh!) and dispensed with any tokenistic multi-bed suites.
Sale of our Crown Jewel
The string gets longer when those of my vintage remember that Raffles Hotel ( together with the doorman) was once one of Singapore’s most recognizable icon. It was sold to a foreign private equity group aptly named “Colony Capital” and was then kicked around like the football we so loved to watch and this ex-icon is now owned by Qatar.  Click here.

Then of course there are the power stations sold to China.

Someone said ( or perhaps it is a song) that Money makes the world go round…
SCM: What makes the PAP all wound up
Since now we know what the string is made of that ties up what is important to this PAP government (and what irks me) and since it is epitomized by the Sengkang Columbarium saga, I shall henceforth call the PAP’s Theory of Everything, the Sengkang Columbarium Model (SCM).

When you have the time, think of what irks most Singaporeans about the PAP eg ministers’ not inconsiderable ( ok high) salaries , then SCM will help you explain why the universe at one degree north of the equator is so warped. Click here - you won't regret)
Cheer up! It's not definitely the end of the world ( it could be but not definitely).
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Short-term stay industry eg AirBnB can be positive for Singapore.


Dear Friends,

URA is getting feedback on short-term rentals in private homes. ( click here).

Before we say NO and dismiss this nascent industry as unworkable, let us consider if with some regulating, this industry may in fact be a boon rather than a bane.


Update: Straits Times Forum page printed my letter on this topic: Click Here

Introduction

The world is changing and none more than in the“sharing economy”. There is a global paradigm shift in this aspect and in Singapore, we should not dismiss this without considering its merits.
Short-term stay industry most obviously spearheaded by companies like AirBnB and PandaBed has a role to play in many modern cities and many tourists all around the world do stay in homes hosted by these websites and have found them a real alternative to hotels. Why not Singapore?

Singapore's situation
In Singapore, accommodation for tourists and visitors is extremely expensive or often unavailable during peak seasons eg school holidays/ F-1 events etc. This is the same refrain we ( private hospitals) hear from our patients from time to time. Even though budget airlines have done wonders in bringing in more tourists, lack of economical niche homes present a stumbling block for them.
If this short-term stay industry can be properly regulated, beneficiaries are many and include home owners and tourism industry ie retail /airline/ medical tourism sans (excluding) hotels. The hotel industry , for obvious reasons, will try to prevent competition and will try to lobby and influence government leaders why we should not allow this into Singapore.

As it is now, many of patients/family coming for prolonged medical treatments already stay in apartments in Lucky Plaza/ China town. These are probably illegal. If legitimised there will be extra income tax collection for Singapore’s treasury. But more importantly, a new industry will grow to the benefit of many ordinary home owners.
Problems are not insurmountable
Potential problems eg overuse of common amenities/ loss of privacy are manageable by having proper regulations. For instance, HDB flats should not be allowed to participate in this scheme as HDB is supposed to be subsidised housing for the masses.  
Condominium participation depends on each condo’s (MCST) Bylaws. The strata title members decide for themselves if short term tenants are desirable. Their property prices may increase/ decrease depending on which way the  coin falls. The market decides. One may be surprised, if in Condos who say YES,  buyers may turn up to drive up demand for apartments there as then there will be another new income stream for them later.
There is little reason why landed private housing, eg  bungalows /semiD / terraces cannot rent out their properties so long as the tenants/landlords abide by existing laws of traffic/ environment) etc. If tenants are noisy or traffic jams ensue, existing provisions should suffice.
If this industry is allowed, landlords/owners must be held accountable and keep proper documentation/registers of tenants to ensure proper tax submission and for national security ( esply important for post-911 world).

Properly regulated short-term accommodation industry will make our hotel industry more competitive and this industry has potential for bringing our tourism industry to the next level.

Don’t just say NO!
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan