Here we go again – another “review”

This was the front page of the Straits Times on 16 February 2013:

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Yup. It’s another “review” of whether concessions will be given to certain groups, including the disabled. But this time, it seems that the government is taking it more seriously – “a high level committee”, according to the Straits Times, has been tasked to look into the matter.

But lets be clear about one thing – such a “review” is not new. SBS Transit had such a “review” in 2009 to see if concessions would be given to the disabled. Nothing was heard of the review after that. Evidently, it decided that concessions could or would not be given.

Straits Times, 22 May 2009
Straits Times, 22 May 2009

The disabled community even took to Hong Lim Park in 2009 to make their plea: [Read it here: “10 years – and still no public transport subsidy for disabled“]

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And again last year, 2012, the minister dismissed the appeals for concessions:

New Paper, 10 March 2012
New Paper, 10 March 2012

And mind you, the disabled have been fighting for this for 14 years now. Yes, 14 years – for concessions, while the CEOs of the transport companies keep being paid exorbitant salaries and bonuses. (I wrote about it here: “No concessions for disabled – but CEOs reap millions“.)

I am not hopeful that the minister for transport or the Public Transport Council (PTC) or the operators will finally give the disabled community – whose members do not earn a lot, mostly – the concessions.

I am also tired of reading about all these “reviews”. 14 years should be more than enough for such things. It really is time for the minister for transport to have some freaking backbone and decide for concessions for the disabled community.

Here is the last article I wrote about this matter, almost a year ago. I wrote it for Yahoo here: “Time to provide transport fare concessions to the disabled“.

Have some balls, Mr Lui.

And have some heart, PTC, SMRT & SBS Transit.

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Fandi and the “Singaporean core”

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“Fandi’s sons willing to switch nationalities if it can further their football career,” the New Paper reported on 12 February. When it came to National Service (NS), Fandi said, “[The] boys are old enough and mature enough and we respect them to make their own choices.”

When we posted this on the publichouse.sg Facebook page, the overwhelming majority of commenters supported his sons’ potential move to South Africa to further their careers.

One wonders if the same support would have been forthcoming in earlier days, say the 1970s or 1980s, when support for our national football team was arguably more intense and more widespread. Continue reading “Fandi and the “Singaporean core””

Happy Birthday, PM Lee, you have a tough job

It’s 10 February. It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year. It is also the 61st birthday of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – the man whose job I would not want.

The parliamentary debate on the White Paper on Population has just concluded. The House has given its approval and the government will proceed as indicated by the Paper, in spite of the public protests against it.

Be that as it may, there are two instances during the past week which makes me feel somewhat sorry for the prime minister.

The first was during his speech which he made on the last day of the parliamentary debate. PM Lee, at one point, held back his emotions when trying to explain to Singaporeans how they are at the heart of government policies. It is a point which several other ministers tried to make during the week. And from the PM’s emotional explanation, one can tell that perhaps the government feels a certain sense of desperation that S’poreans must believe what it is saying. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, PM Lee, you have a tough job”

In brief, the PAP is telling us we need more of the same

So, the White Paper has been approved – overwhelmingly – by Parliament. No surprises there. There is rumour, however, that PAP MP Inderjit Singh, who spoke up against the White Paper, absented himself during the vote in the House. I should add that this is unsubstantiated and unconfirmed rumour.

UPDATE: The Straits Times of 9 February 2013 confirmed that Mr Singh did not cast his vote:

Straits Times 9 Feb 2013

Anyway, the sadness of this whole process this past week is that in spite of the huge and very heartfelt outcry from Singaporeans against the White Paper, there is really nothing anyone can do about it – not your opposition MPs, not your PAP MPs who have to vote according to the party whip no matter what they may think of the paper.

The Cabinet –  17 men and 1 woman – decides on it and PAP MPs, who make up the majority in the House, will have to toe the party line and vote according to what the Cabinet dictates. Continue reading “In brief, the PAP is telling us we need more of the same”

Welfare of children as political football

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“As for childcare centres, Mr Teo said these will be difficult to facilitate as they are no longer the representatives for the area.” – Channel Newsasia, 5 February 2013.

The above comment is made by Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Mayor, North East District – just as Parliament is debating the matter of our future population and how the welfare of Singaporeans are at the core of our government’s policies.

Mr Teo’s remarks also come on the same day that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu said “marriage and parenthood is central to maintaining a strong Singaporean core.” (See here.) One wonders why it would be “difficult to facilitate” the establishment of childcare centres in Punggol East, since the welfare and well-being of our children should not be subject to the political winds.  Continue reading “Welfare of children as political football”

2030 – more of the same, only worse

Picture from: http://seijieiga.blogspot.sg/
Picture from: http://seijieiga.blogspot.sg/

Naturally, the White Paper on population – grandly titled “A Sustainable Population For A Dynamic Singapore” – is the talk of the town. The numbers “6” and “9” have never been so closely scrutinized as they are at the moment. The White Paper speaks of grand ideas and even bigger hopes – of the “three pillars” which will be the foundations of the aspiration in the Paper’s title; it speaks of “maintaining a strong Singaporean core”; of a “high quality living environment” and so on.

However, the Paper comes across as bureaucratic speak, with its customary charts and even smiling faces of children. [It’s a little strange to see such pictures in what was expected to be a highly-technocratic piece of document.] The Paper, with all its grand ideas, fails to inspire. Instead it has stirred up an entirely different reaction from the public, a reaction not unlike a swarm of bees awaken unceremoniously from its sleep. Continue reading “2030 – more of the same, only worse”