Thursday, October 28, 2010

No sponsor? No support for the Singapore teams getting lost and losing weight

The Amazing Race Asia is showing tonight, and I just can't wait to see the teams struggle with unbelievable tasks in even more unbelievable countries. And most importantly, I must remember to record the show for my cousin because he has not subscribed to the cable TV. Yap, The Amazing Race show is shown on our free-to-air TV, but not the Asia version. Perhaps because we have always been told that we aim to be a global city, but never an Asian city. Oh, and also perhaps Mediacorp didn't get a sponsor.

You see, because the free-to-air Mediacorp is supposed to be not making too much money out of the people, so all TV programs have to be sponsored. Even those low cost drama series produced by themselves. And since no company has offered to sponsor The Amazing Race Asia, sorry fellow countrymen, you can't cheer for the Singapore team for free.

When Claire and Michelle were sabotaged by those two stupid Indian women, it were the Starhub TV AXN Channel Subscribers who held their breath and hoped that they did not get eliminated. Hell, when Collin and Adrian won The Amazing Race Asia season 2, only the Starhub TV AXN Channel Subscribers could cheer for them!

Same for The Biggest Loser Asia. With as many as 4 Singaporeans trying to get healthy in this season, only the Starhub TV Diva Channel Subscribers are there to support them. Mediacorp may argue that they have already given us our very own Lose To Win (of course sponsored by the HPB!) so we don't need to watch The Biggest Loser Asia. Right. Michelle Chia and Gurmit Singh can definitely give better fitness advices than professional trainers Dave Nuku and Kristy Curtis.

Now I know why is it that I can see the season 1 Filipinos showing off their flag proudly wherever they go, but not the season 2 Singaporeans. Because they know no Singaporean is going to see the flag anyway! Oh, except for the Starhub TV Diva Channel Subscribers.

You know what, I think the Starhub TV AXN Channel Subscribers and Starhub TV Diva Channel Subscribers deserved a National Award for cheering the Singapore teams getting lost in Sri Lanka or losing weight in Kuala Lumpur, when other Singaporeans are not there for them. And our subscriptions are not cheap.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's up up and away for the ERP charges!

I always believe that our public transport system is designed by people who drive and the ERP system is designed by people who drive Audis and BMWs. That is why our public transport system does not work and the ERP system is sucking us dry. "Oh come on, it's just $4! The Pain de Campagne that I take for breakfast cost more than that!". Oh yes. If the people pricing the ERP system get another pay raise, we can anticipate a $10 ERP charge.

Of course the gahmen is constantly trying to convince the people that the purpose of the ERP system is to lessen the congestion on our roads and not to earn money. Just like how the $100 levy for locals is meant to discourage them from getting into the casinos. All for the good of the people.

But in the very first place, does increasing the ERP charges work in releasing congestion? Perhaps we should first look at why are the roads congested during peak hours. Er... because everybody is on the road at the same time? But why? Because all offices and schools start at the same time! DUH! So will increasing the ERP charges lessen the congestion any way?

If increasing the ERP charges will indeed deter people from using the roads during the peak hours, does that mean we should change our life style so that we don't inconsiderately congest the roads at the same time everyday? So we should send our kids to school early so that they can squat outside locked school gates at 5am? And we should stagger our working hours to start work at 11am/2pm/3pm and go home at 8pm/9pm/10pm?

According to those people living in their little cubicles in LTA, the ERP rates are raised when speeds on a particular road fall below the optimal range, and are lowered when they fall back within optimal range. According to me, I think they should put on their sunblock lotions and take a field trip to these speeds-below-optimal-range roads.

See that whole lane occupied by roadwork for the last decade? See the other two left lanes occupied by heavy vehicles? See that left over lane occupied by slow moving aunties/uncles/P-plates?

Seriously, the gahmen has to stop thinking that money solves everything. COEs do not stop people from having cars because our public transport system cannot make it. ERP charges do not stop people from using the only roads to take them to their kids' schools and to work.

But increasing night parking charges at over 1,300 carparks from $2 to $4 does work to solve the overnight parking crunch. Because I can imagine people starting to call up their parents, "Ma, we won't be coming over for dinner anymore. Parking too expensive lah. So you take a bus over to my place, can?"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My insurance agent is too hardworking

My new insurance agent has been so getting on my nerves. My previous favourite agent, who will ignore me for 364 days in a year except for one when she will call to ask whether I want a free desktop calender, has left and thus the insurance company has assigned me this new agent. We met up to do the transfer documents and she looked like a nice and understanding aunty to me. But I didn't know then that "persistent" is a more suitable adjective to describe her.

I should have known. When we were going through my financial profile, she tried very hard to find any extra hard cash or CPF money lying around. She wanted to know exactly how much I am paying for my house loan, car loan and whatever installments for my latest gadgets. When she realised that I am cash poor, she turned to my CPF money, but I disappointed her that there is a financial adviser guy managing the investment of my CPF money.

"But you should not put all your eggs into one basket, you know?"
"But we're investing in different funds of different natures and he has been growing money for me."
"But how can you trust all your CPF money to him?"

Right. I should not trust all my CPF money to a guy who I have known for five years and has been making profit for me all these while. I should trust you who I've known for only one hour.

The day after we met, I immediately regretted leaving her with my business card. She called me at 10am in the morning at my office phone and asked whether I could introduce my HR Manager to her, so that she could sell her company's medical insurance to the whole company. I gave her the email address of our Global HR Manager somewhere in US. "Oh... so your HR department is not in Singapore?". Aunty, of course I've got a local HR Manager, but what makes you think that I'm willing to embarrass myself for your sake? What makes you think that someone at the lower end of the food chain like me can convince my HR Manager to terminate our current medical insurance deal with an established International insurance company and start a new contract with a little agent like you?

Then she had another idea. She wanted me to introduce my colleagues to her. Well that was more reasonable. I told her to hand me some of her business cards when we meet up next time so that I could distribute them. But whether the cards end up in their wallets or the rubbish bin is out of my control.

Eventually I also realised that I'll definitely receive a call from her whenever the insurance company launches a new policy.

"Hey, we've got this new Smart Lady rider which is very good for you! It pays out a lump sum upon diagnosis of major female illnesses and even covers treatment expenses for a variety of female related procedures! You can even get free female medical checkup every two years!"

Great. So after having bought all sorts of critical illness riders that promise to cover almost all sorts of critical illness known to mankind and unknown to me, now the insurance company is telling me that they've actually missed out on some critical illness that only affect women, and I need to get another rider? What's next? White Collar Workers Critical Illness Rider that insures me against illness caused by too much computer usage? Singapore Drivers Critical Illness Rider that insures me against stupid drivers on the road? Movie Goers Critical Illness Rider that insures me against watching too much 3D movies and spoiling my eyesight?

A couple of weeks later, she called again because the company has launched another new rider that offers financial support right from the early stages of critical illnesses. I'm pretty sure the insurance company will soon launch another Last Stage Crisis Cover that offers financial support right at the last stage of critical illnesses to cover a luxurious last travel trip to Europe and a luxurious last meal of Wagyu steak at the Morton’s made by the chief chef.

Anyway, to save her from all the calling and me from coming up with all the excuses to not meet up with her, I suggested to her that she could email me in future because I can be easily reached by email and I check it everyday. What I forgot to mention is that it'll also be easier for me to mark her emails as spam.

Dear Insurance Aunty, I know that you're just trying to make a living, but I'm not your new whale. I'm just a poor ikan bili.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's the "Haze gets in your eyes" time again

Imagine this. You're staying in a landed property with a beautiful house. As a successful businessman, you furnish your house with all the latest and fanciest. Some guys have a playroom for their kids? You made a bigger one and filled it with all the latest and expensive toys, regardless whether your kids play them. Some guys have a little poker card room for socialising? You made space for two.

You run your family meticulously and you pride yourself in keeping your house sparkling clean. You deduct your kids' pocket money if they throw rubbish around the house, and you employ maids to clean up if they do.

However your authority only stops at your house's gate. The neighbourhood bully is staying just next to you. They have a big house and lots of kids and relatives. You know they are into some murky business, but you dare not poke. When people ask about your relationship with your neighbour, you just smile and say you are friends. You even lent him a huge sum of money when he got into financial trouble during the last crisis in 1997. When he didn't bother to pay back, you don't dare to ask.

You figured out that you will have a better life by staying clear of that family's path and mind your own business. But once every year or two during the school vacation, the bully's kids will invite their friends over for BBQs in their big garden. Because they have the biggest garden in the neighbourhood, they have lots of BBQ pits in their big garden. During these times, the bully's kids will party non-stop and BBQ endlessly, lighting up pit after pit. As a result, it gets so smokey that even their house is hardly visible among all the smoke, and when the direction of the wind changes, you have a share of the smoke as well.

All these smoke from the bully is affecting your family. You have to warn your grandma who has asthma about going out to the garden, and you have to stop your kids from playing outdoor sports. You are living in an air of choking BBQ smoke and it is driving you crazy. Each time, you tried to talk to the bully about the smoke, all he said is "Oh, I already told them not to light up so many BBQ pits, but you know kids will be kids right? I can't control so many of them 24/7 right? There's not much that I can do! I'm sure you can understand right? Hahaha!"

When the other neighbour come over to play Monopoly, you'll try to get him to talk to the bully too.

"You're also affected by the smoke right?"
"Yah! Alamak! The wind is blowing the smoke all over the place! Everyone around the area kena lah!"
"Then you still allow your kids to run around outside?"
"Ah doi! Brudder, they old enough to take care of themselves lah! Actually sometimes you too protective over your kids already lah!"
"But still, don't you think we should go talk to him again?"
"Can also lah! Wait I see when I free, okay? Hey you want to exchange that piece of land with my railway station?"

This neighbour does work with you to advise the bully at times, but you two know very well that the most that the bully does in return is to put out one or two pits, but his kids will light them all up again some time later. But hey, what can you do? Just suck it all up and wish for the the smoke to go away soon lor!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How many more?

The other side of Your Singapore that foreign visitors didn't get to see.

Spread the video for good social cause.

More details coming from Alvinology.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The name of your website has been trademarked by the big boys!

Recently Apple has been awarded the trademark for "There's an app for that." Which means that moving forward, Android have to use other taglines when promoting their applications like "This one also got app."

Back home, big investment firm Temasek Holdings has advised little website Temasek Review to change their website name. While the website adopted the name in July last year, Temasek Holdings have registered Temasek Review as a trademark for their annual performance report started since 2004, but only last November.

Some might be quick to think that it is reasonable for Temasek Review to change their website name since Temasek Holdings has been awarded trademark. But hang on. The website was established in July, but the trademark was only registered in November. Can someone trademark something that someone else has already been using it? Which means that if I decided to start up a Hainanese Chicken Rice stall and I were to register "Hainanese Chicken Rice" as my stall's trademark, all the other Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls in Singapore have to rename their dishes to something else like "Cantonese Chicken Rice"? How cool is that!

But why is Temasek Holdings registering a trademark that is used only for their annual performance report which is read only by their investors and themselves? Because they own the word "Temasek"? But the word "Temasek" simply refers to the ancient Singapore, so it has the same meaning as... Singapore! So I don't suppose they can actually own "Temasek" right?

We are from a country which renames Marina Bay as Marina Bay and a budget terminal as Budget Terminal. That's why our petrol company is named Singapore Petroleum Company, our shopping center is named Plaza Singapura and we have a Singapore Polytechnic and a Temasek Polytechnic. With our country names so widely and loosely used, does it even makes sense to let one company owns it?

And if Temasek Holdings has managed to get the editors of Temasek Review website to change their site name, are they going to trademark "Temasek" totally so that no other website can ever be remotely briefly associated with them? If yes, then we've got a problem.

Temasek Polytechnic will need to be renamed to That Third One After SP And NP Polytechnic. Temasek Secondary School will be Upper East Coast Road Secondary School. Temasek Club will be SAF Officers Only Club, and Temasek Tower might have to be renamed as Opposite MAS Tower.

My guess is that little Temasek Review will give in to the big Temasek Holdings and rename themselves and re-register another domain. Maybe And I don't think that will affect their readership much. Like the loyal customers to a good Hainanese Chicken Rice stall, no matter how the stall has shifted and renamed, they'll be lost and found and their customers will follow.

Meanwhile, I'm more worried about receiving a letter from NEA that I can't name my blog "Today's Mostly Cloudy" anymore because they've registered "Today is Mostly Cloudy" for their weather forecast report.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The five taxi uncles you meet on earth (in Singapore actually)

While there have been more taxi companies and clearly more taxis on the road, getting one when you need it is another story. And when you do finally get one, the ride itself is yet another story.

This time, I'm not going to talk about the street full of On Call taxis because I've already done that previously. I'm also not going to complain about the list of surcharges that is longer than a Secondary school student's school reopening shopping list, nor will I analyse the mystery of the disappearing taxis at 11:30pm.

I'm just going to share with you a story of the five taxi uncles that I've met in the past months.

I met Taxi Uncle #1 when I was driving on the expressway. It was a warm or cool night (I won't know because I had the air-con in my car), and I was just cruising with the flow of traffic on lane 1 (rightmost lane for those who don't drive). Taxi Uncle #1 in a vacant taxi picked up his speed from behind me and started to tailgate me real close. The lane on my left was rather busy so it was not really possible for me to change lane, and so I accelerated to 110km/h (shhhhh...). However that didn't satisfy Taxi Uncle #1 and he continued to tailgate me.

Eventually, he found some gap on the left and sped up, filtering all the way to the leftmost lane. Just when I thought he was exiting, he filtered all the way back to the rightmost lane again and ended up right in front of me. I anticipated the usual hard brake sabotage coming my way so I filtered to the left lane to avoid trouble. Surprisingly, just after I filtered to the left, he swiftly filtered all the way to the leftmost lane again and... exited. Huh? So the sheer dangerous speeding stunt was just an attempt to spite me? Like that also happy?

Another day, I needed to rush to the airport to catch a plane and so I dialed a cab. Despite the automated robotic voice promising the taxi will arrive in three to five minutes, Taxi Uncle #2 was nowhere in sight after I waited ten minutes below my flat. Finally I sighted him driving in, but he drove right pass my flat and went all the way to the other side of anther flat! I desperately dragged my luggage towards his location and shouted and waved my hands frantically every now and then but he didn't see me at all. Finally, he called my handphone and realised that he went to the wrong flat. After I got into the taxi and after he apologised for being late and lost, he asked if there was any toilet nearby because he needed to go! Are you kidding me?!?

Last week when a foreign friend and I took a taxi from Marina Bay Sands to Ang Mo Kio (I didn't drive because I couldn't talk myself into paying the $8/hr parking fee), we met the extremely rude Taxi Uncle #3. After we exited the expressway to Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, I told Taxi Uncle #3 that we wished to go to block 232.

"Where is it?", he asked
"Er... I don't know.", I replied.

Taxi Uncle #3 then followed with a very loud "TSK" and started pressing his GPS fast and furious. Luckily his GPS gave in to his torture and disclosed the location of block 232. When we were paying, my friend asked if he could pay using his credit card.

"No! Cash only!"

To avoid making Taxi Uncle #3 even more unhappy, my friend paid in cash obediently and I held back asking Taxi Uncle #3 whether the credit card machine in his taxi was for display only.

We met Taxi Uncle #4 immediately on the ride back to my friend's hotel. We took just about fifteen minutes to get from Ang Mo Kio to Marina Bay. Throughout the whole journey, he drove like Vin Diesel in his modified Chevrolet Chevelle SS and "Warning: Drive Carefully!" kept popping up on his GPS screen. Whenever I managed to take a peep at his speedo while rolling over, it was showing me 120km/h. Fortunately for both my friend and me, we managed to hold our dinner in our stomachs.

Last but not least, I met Taxi Uncle #5 when I was back from an overseas trip and took his taxi at the airport. And this was how the conversation went after I told him my destination...

"Go by which way? PIE or ECP?"
"Er... any way with less traffic lor."
"Now peak hours, everywhere also traffic jam one."
"Er... then the shorter way bah."
"Both about the same lah!"
"Then whichever way that is easier lah!" (I didn't know what I meant by "easier". Must be the jet lag.)
"It's about the same lah..."

I then had such a bad headache after a sleepless flight and having to decide which expressway that I almost told him that I would pay him to decide for me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

To Kill a Mocking Bear

Advertising in Singapore has always been boring. It's always the roadshows, sale events and Zoe Tay (Fann Wong if it is abalone). So these days the young Marketing Managers try to come up with something creative, like where's-the-point flash mobs and vandalising postboxes. Recently, they decided to use the bear and received more publicity than they have imagined.

This marketing stunt could have worked for Phillips. Bear vs Shaver. To imagine a bear without fur might be a bit too gross, but at least it was a creative thought. The only problem was the venue. If this "bear" have emerged in the middle of Raffles Place on a sunny afternoon, that crowd who is already used to all sorts of pointless marketing flash mobs would immediately know that the bear is just another marketing stunt. But "it" has to appear at some Ulu Pandan place. In the middle of the night.

So the typical Singaporean who saw the "bear" immediately proceeded with the Kaypoh-Singaporean SOP. Take picture > call Wanbao hotline > Stomp it > put on Facebook > announce on Twitter. The next thing you know, all the task forces from zoo, nature group and police stomped into Ulu Pandan to begin a bear hunt.

I'll imagine that when they finally found the "bear", these were the three words they said:
"A doi?"
"Apa Ini?!?"

Anyway when I read the bear-on-loose news on Twitter, I was skeptical. I know it's common to have monkeys, pythons and monitor lizards running away from their homes in the forest to have a holiday in the housing estates. But bear? Some more a sun bear? Look, we've got no salmon in our long-gangs and no beehive on our Angsana trees, so it is basically impossible for a bear to survive in a Singapore forest!

Unless the bear has swam all the way from Malaysia to Singapore. Which might then be reasonable, since Mas Selamat can swim the same distance using a floating device.

And there is no way that the bear has escaped from the zoo. Even for a bear, it is still too far to walk from Mandai to Ulu Pandan. Unless it took the MRT. Oh wait! It is possible for a bear to take the MRT train without causing any commotion! The SMRT staff will treat any abnormality to be a Marketing stunt by default. Vandalism on train? Must be advertising. Bollywood dancing in the train? Must be advertising. Man jumping onto the track? Must be advertising. Oh wait. He seems to be bleeding profusely. He looks dead. Oh... it's not advertising.

But still, why Ulu Pandan? Hmm... maybe it was not the actual venue. Maybe the guy in bear costume was on his way to work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No tourist? Blame it on those ATAS hotels

We are constantly promoting Singapore to the world. From one Grand Prix to two casinos, no matter how big and expensive the project, STB will squeeze anything and everything into the little red dot for the sake of more tourists. However I'm not sure if they are looking at the number of visitors revisiting Singapore.

I've never seen any statistics on the number of returning visitors, but at least all my foreign friends who have visited Singapore once are definitely not keen in coming back for the second time. Well, excluding those that have to come for business. And the common reason? They felt being ripped off by the Singapore hotels.

One friend from Hong Kong visited during the first F1 Grand Prix and while he felt that the ticket was expensive, it was still acceptable because it was the first night race experience. What was not acceptable was having to pay through his nose to stay in some budget hotel in some dodgy place. This year, he chased after the race in Japan.

One friend from France came for a short break and paid five hundreds over dollars for a room in a five-star hotel along Scotts Road. All thanks to the hotel's minibar, she did not dare to drink another can of soft drink in Singapore during the whole trip. That one and only can of Coke she drank from the minibar cost her a painful and memorable five dollars.

One colleague from Canada was here on business last quarter. The first time that he stayed at this five-star hotel near Marina Bay, he paid forty over dollars for a plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice, only to find out during lunch that we paid the same price for one whole chicken, some side dishes and a plate of rice for all eight of us. And this Lost-and-Found stall's chicken rice tasted better.

The same Canadian colleague was here again on business recently. This time, he stayed at the same five-star hotel with its name started with "C", and having learned his lesson that the hotel's very presentable chicken rice was a total rip-off, he ordered Fish and Chips. It cost him fifty over dollars. And no, that fish was not an endangered Queensland grouper.

Seriously, STB, besides spending so much money renovating Your Orchard Road, getting rid of maids picnics and replacing them with butterflies, and spending so much effort coming up with yet another catchy tag line for Your campaign, you should go have a talk with Your five-star hotels and tell them that nobody is visiting Your Singapore because Your hotels are too damn expensive!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How do you lose something as huge as a time capsule?

Can someone tell me where do I apply to be a construction worker? Yes, you didn't hear me wrong. I want to work alongside the Bangladesh workers under the hot sun and freak storms. But I only want to work at the National Stadium. Why? Because I wish it'll be a patriotic Singaporean like me who discovers the long lost time capsule and not some foreign workers who thought they struck gold, or a metal casing. Oh, and partly because there is a $50,000 reward.

Yap, the gahmen is offering a huge $50,000 reward to get someone to help find something they lost. But don't rush to your nearby Home-Fix store to get a shovel yet. According to a director involved in the project, the $50,000 bounty is part of the contract agreement with Beng Soon Machinery Services, the sub-contractor taking part in the demolition. Ah... that's why not much people has heard about this $50,000 reward! Because just like other good stuff in Singapore, this reward is only reserved for the foreigners.

But in the very first place, how did we lose the time capsule? A six-year old will know that after he hide his precious gaming cards in the playground for his friends to search for, he draw a very rough map of the playground and mark a big X so that he can locate it later if his stupid friends fail to find it in the treasure hunt game. And our meticulous gahmen, who makes sure you sign a book of agreement as thick as a dictionary before you can purchase a HDB flat, failed to keep documentation of where the time capsule was buried? Yes, it was long long time ago in 1970 when the time capsule was buried. But the ball-point pen was invented in 1938.

And is it the best use of taxpayers' money to give away a $50,000 reward? Why can't they purchase one of those sci-fic looking dead-body detector that all the actors and actresses in CSI Las Vegas, CSI New York and CSI Miami have used? I'm sure that thing won't cost as much as $50,000.

Actually there might still be a cheaper way. Can't we ask the sub-contractor to get more Bangladesh workers to work OT and dig out the whole place and turn every rock to find that time capsule? Judging from how much those Bangladesh workers are paid, I'm sure even getting one to dig at every 1 meter square won't cost us $50,000.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too many selfish bastards, too little space

There is always some International survey going on to analyse people around the world. Like which country has the most billionaires, divorced people, old people, happy people or unhappy people. Surprisingly Singapore never turn up first on the "Country with highest number of unhappy people" though gahmen always complain that we complain too much. Anyway, Singapore is never number one in any of these surveys. We lost to Japan and Finland to be the cleanest, we lost to Hong Kong and Switzerland to have the most expensive homes, we even lost to Cambodia and China for ignoring human rights. But guess what? I think I might have found one category which we can win these big guys. We can be the country with the highest number of selfish bastards.

No, I'm not talking about those selfish bastards who climb over people and volunteers below his feet to build a perfect portfolio for his political career even if he has to overspend three times the budget. This is not a political blog and I don't think I'll like the taste of those free kopis at ISD.

I'm also not talking about those selfish bastards who pretend to run a public service but refuse to increase the frequency of that very public transport because earning more money and showing a perfect report to her shareholders is more important. There are more than enough blogs cursing and swearing at her and I don't take the public transport so often anyway.

I'm talking about those selfish bastards who lurk around where you stay, study and work. Those selfish bastards that you meet everyday, whether you like it or not.

He is the one who knows that it is an offense to smoke in the lift, but he'll still light it up anyway on the way down, so that he can start smoking the moment he steps out of the lift. Apparently even a few minutes matter on his race towards the destination of lung cancer.

He is the one who knows that it is an offense to litter, but since he didn't ask for those real estate and other leaflets in his letterbox, he thinks he can't be blamed for throwing them on the floor. Even if the rubbish bin is only 2m away.

He is the young one who feels that Rihanna or Jay Chow has to be listened while sitting and some standing is a good form of exercise for the old man or pregnant lady in front of him.

He is the one who thought that he can buy a shopping trolley for a dollar and he can bring it all the way from the supermarket to his house. And when he is done, he is generous enough to give it away by abandoning it on some open field.

He is the one who feels that parking his motorbike in a proper carpark is too expensive and too troublesome, and the pavement looks like a better parking space, even if it means blocking the way for the pedestrians, who are the real users.

He is the one who parks his car at the multi-storey carpark washing bay on weekdays to save parking fee, and on Sundays to save walking up the multi-storey carpark, even if he needs to occupy one out of the two lots for people who really need to wash their cars.

He is the one who parks his lorry/van/pick-up right outside the carpark entrance to unload the goods, instead of going into the loading bay, for the sake of his own convenience even if it means blocking the whole world who are trying to get into the carpark to do some real parking.

She is the one who thinks that filming her fellow schoolmates making out in the toilet and loading that video on Youtube is fun, even if it means destroying the future and life of two human beings.

And the selfish bastard of all selfish bastards is the one who stuck his chewing gum all over the place and thereby causing it to be totally banned in Singapore.

Actually you know what? While we're at importing more foreign talents and untalented into the country, can we send away one selfish bastard for every ten foreign talent/untalented that we bring in? No, tempted as I am to suggest, we can't do a one-to-one exchange. We'll run out of Singaporeans.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Rich, the Poor and the Corrupted

It seems like after 2 senior officers were found cheating the SLA of $12 million dollars, 2 more men have been hauled to court for their alleged involvement. This shouldn't come as a surprise.

I mean, while corruption is nothing new in Singapore, the usual gifts were just a few hundreds to a couple of thousands, and some will settle for just sexual favors. It'll definitely take more cooks to pull off such a big case of $12 million dollars fraud. In fact, 4 men might still be a stretch.

Some may wonder, is it worth it? The most senior of the four, Koh Seah Wee was already a deputy director with SLA's Technology and Infrastructure Department, holding on to a golden rice bowl with super high pay till he retires, so why the corruption? Because he wants to be the Rich and be able to play with a Lamborghini, some Mercedes Benz cars, a property at Axis@Siglap and some unit trusts.

Everybody thought that in Singapore, there are 3 classes. The Poor, the Middle-class and the Rich. Unknown to most, there are actually 2 now. The Middle-class species is already extinct long long time ago. Some of them have evolved into the Rich, but majority of them have become the Poor.

It was purely environmental factors that have driven the Middle-class down the route of extinction and becoming the Poor. Loss of jobs due to companies restructuring/employing foreign talents, ever increasing daily expenses like education for the kids, expensive public and private flats and high house loans, car loans and ERP charges.

So we can't really blame the 4 men in SLA. They're merely going down the course of nature, trying to evolve into the Rich, in a shorter time. Something that I've secretly wanted to do since I was a kid.

I remember watching a Hong Kong film of how a poor police inspector becomes real rich simply by being corrupted, starring Andy Lau and based on a real story. It really inspired the young me and I immediately rewrote my composition "What do I want to be when I grow up", changing from astronaut to policeman.

But when I finally grew up and graduated, I didn't join the Home Team. Because I then realised that becoming a policeman means sitting in a little neighbourhood police post and doing paperworks of children or dogs running away from home. There is just not enough big mafias and Yakuzas in Singapore to earn corruption money from.

However I was not smart enough to foresee that in the new Singapore, every outsource opportunity is a corruption waiting to be discovered.

Well, I blame it on Singapore's film industry! Why didn't any film maker thought of making the film "Corruption Not Enough" about the hero working in a statboard, or some charity organisation or some religious hospital? We don't even have to pay Andy Lau big bucks to be the leading male because we can use Jet Li who is Singaporean now!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let's just make the taxi booking charge mandatory

45 minutes. That was how long I've waited for a taxi at the Harbourfront taxi stand during a weekend. I went to Batam for a short trip and unfortunately unlike Batman, I was unable to remote control my car to pick me up at Harbourfront. And dragging my luggage up a crowded weekend evening bus or MRT did not really sound appealing to me.

There were taxis coming into the taxi stand alright, countless supply in fact. But the queue was not exactly moving as quickly. Because out of every 10 taxis driving into the taxi stand, almost 8 of them were on call. In fact, most of the time when the queue moved, it was because someone had given up and paid the additional $2.50 booking charge.

The Ang Mor behind me asked his Singaporean-sounding friend why weren't those On Call taxis picking up any passenger from the queue, and she replied with how the dial-a-cab system works. Then he asked a more difficult question. What about those taxis that are not on call? Where are they?

Of course the Ang Mor's friend replied with some touristically-correct answer like how it was weekend and some were in the city/IRs/airport/changing shift etc. And of course we the locals know the real answer. The rest of the taxis that were not on call were stopped somewhere near some kopitiams waiting to be on call.

Hey, an additional $2.50 to the $20-30 taxi fare is like a 10% increase in income, you know? If you were a taxi driver will you prefer to drive to a taxi stand to look for customer or sit in your taxi and read wanbao while waiting for your customer to call you and pay you 10% extra?

My kindhearted and understanding friend was saying how it is not the taxi drivers' fault, because when there is supply only when there is demand, and there are just too many impatient Singaporeans who prefer to call than wait for taxis.

Alright then. Since most people don't mind the additional $2.50, why don't we just make the taxi booking charge mandatory, make it part of long list of surcharges like ERP surcharge, city surcharge, public holiday surcharge, peak hours surcharge, IR surcharge, airport surcharge, and all others who-ask-you-to-take-a-cab surcharges! Then there will be no more vacant taxis roaming the roads and all taxis have to be called. Taxi drivers can spend more time at kopitiams and we can spend less time of our life waiting.

As for the taxi stands around the country that are then useless, LTA can convert them into Taxis Viewing Cafes, for people with time to spare to watch On Call taxis go by, just like how the French watch people walk pass while sipping their lattes in alfresco cafes. All LTA have to do is to enclose the taxi stands, put in some air-con, pipe in some jazz music, install a little counter with coffee machines and we are good to go.

But is there a market? Of course there will be! Why will someone want to watch On Call taxis roaming pass? Well, I've just done that for 45 minutes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why are there so many cock ups in the YOG?

It is really amazing that even after the YOG is over and out, new screw-ups continue to surface on the newspapers. My foreign friends could not understand how can a country which is so well-known for its efficiency and effectiveness and most importantly, productivity, gets so screwed-up in such a large scale international event. But we the locals? Oh, we knew there'll be some cock ups here and there for sure, even before the game started. Why? Because it is run by the statboards.

In a typical statboard, decisions are made and orders are given top-down, and what's left for the last in the food-chain will just be actions. This should work well if the orders are precise and logical, but unfortunately there are always smart alecks somewhere in the middle to mess things up.

It's kinda like, the guy at the top envisioned a cup of espresso, then somewhere along the way, one guy in the middle management thinks some hazelnut syrup will add some flavor, then another guy likes some cocoa powder, another guy adds some rum, another guy adds in some milk, and by the time the order reaches the ground, 10 kinds of syrup and 20 kinds of topping have been added to it. To make matter worse, now this last guy on the ground has to brew and deliver this cup of messed-up coffee ASAP/EOD/NOW!

So there you have, prisoner food and food poisoning for the volunteers, sold-out empty stadiums, wrong spelling on souvenir pins, bogus signatures on certificates, F1 tickets sent to volunteers one day after the race... all simple jobs but all went wrong. Heads are definitely going to roll (or have rolled by now), but whose?

The caterers shouldn't have provided the prisoner food and attempted to poison the volunteers, but did someone paid them too little for the catering? And did someone tell them to deliver the food earlier, so early that they turned back under the hot sun?

The printer shouldn't have printed the sample signatures on the certificates, but did someone review the certificates before accepting the print-outs? Did someone tell someone to use sample signatures when designing the certificates and then someone forgot to tell someone that those signatures are bogus?

Dispatch shouldn't send out the F1 tickets so yesterday, but exactly when did someone tell them to purchase and send out the tickets?

My friend is always complaining about how his boss, a top scholar who dived right into the statboard right after she graduated, is always making over-optimistic and unrealistic decisions that have to be corrected by her team who have actually done real work before entering the statboard. But because she is the boss, she has the right to refuse to listen to her team. And when that happens? My friend said,"Oh, then we just do whatever she said lor, and then when it cocks up and people ask, we just say she said one lor!".

And that, is the answer to why there are so many cock ups in the YOG.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Utada Hikaru - Final Distance

Ohh... white peacock? That's a first...

Who takes Chicken Briyani Rice for supper?!?

I've just flown from Singapore to India recently on Singapore Airline's Cinderella-step-sister SilkAir. Though it was a 4.5hrs flight and there was no personal entertainment system (that little LCD TV behind someone's headrest), I survived with a book and a media player.

There was one meal provided too, though not a sensible one. It was a midnight flight and we were offered the choice of vegetarian or chicken. Both done in Indian style. Hello? The last time I checked, in my culture, the only Indian food we take for supper is Roti Prata! Why will I want to eat some very spicy Indian rice in the middle of the night?

Maybe the CEO of SilkAir should go check out kopitiams and 7-elevens in the middle of the night to find out the perfect supper. I'm sure most people, like me, will happily opt for a cup of Nissin instant noodles or hot Milo, which is at the same time cheaper than the fancy spicy Chicken Briyani Rice. Mr CEO, this is a win-win way to make your customers happy and cut cost at the same time!

Also, I can understand the need to provide Indian vegetarian to the majority of their customers who are Indians and probably vegetarian as well, but do I really have to start my Indian feast before I reach India? I mean, can't we have a India-Singapore leg serving Chicken Briyani Rice, but the Singapore-India leg serving Hainanese Chicken Rice? Fair right?

To be fair, perhaps the total of me added up with the rest of the Ang Mors/Chinese/Japanese/Koreans on the flight might actually turn out to be a very small minority on the flight. So in that case, why don't we have the Special Meal option for flights out to India?

Like, on flights to other places, customers could choose Muslim or Vegetarian or any other Special Meal to be served, while the default is Western. So on a flight to India, can we have the Special Meal option of Western or Chinese, while the default is Indian Vegetarian? Fair right?