Category Archives: Quoteworthy

Dr Lim Wee Kiak: Serving two years NS privilege belongs to Singaporeans

Who voted this guy into parliament?

I love this quote from Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, on the results of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey on National Service (NS):

“What you realise from this survey is that majority are not asking them (PRs) to serve exactly the same two years system. In fact, serving the two years is a privilege. I am quite glad that many Singaporeans realised that and that should be a privilege that belongs to Singaporeans.”

Serving two years NS is a privilege?

I have always seen it as a necessary sacrifice that falls on the shoulder of Singapore-born males. Thanks for enlightening me that it should be seen as a privilege.

Here is a definition of the word privilege from Dictionary.com: “a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities”.

The key words here are “free from certain obligations or liabilities”.

By this definition, it seems to me that to give PRs the option to volunteer and choose whether they want to serve NS fits better as a “privilege”  because they have a choice to be free from NS obligations and liabilities.

For those of us who have no choice as conscripts, wouldn’t enslavement and slaves be better words?

By the way, Dr Lim Wee Kiak is the same brilliant doctor who said this on a revision of ministerial pay:

“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discusses policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”

Strange.

I consider serving as a MP or a Minister a privilege. In fact, a very huge privilege.

You can choose not to run for elections or serve as a MP or a Minister. That is a privilege. I cannot choose not to serve NS/ICT/RT/IPPT/IPT. 

If NS is considered a privilege, using the same logic from our good doctor, it is sad that many NSFs will feel that they cannot defend the country when faced with professional, career soldiers from other countries like the United States as they are drawing a measly allowance compared to these mercenaries. We need more pay for dignity. Would the good doctor agree on this?

I wanted to stop blogging about the NS issue as I know it will get nowhere except me getting more unnecessary and unfair attention.

Thanks to Dr Lim Wee Kiak, I am drawn to write another post by the sheer intelligence of his comment.

This is the same doctor who insulted his senior in parliament, Mr Low Thia Khiang  with a totally uncalled for remark on his hearing aid

“I will quote (from your speech then) one more time. And maybe your hearing aid has to be (turned) up a little bit.”

Wow.

Back to the NS issue – I have to concur with Alex that a NS review will not take place. The system is not going to change if you look at the way the whole issue is being framed and discussed, following the results of the IPS survey.

People like me calling for a review of the NS system will always be brushed aside as a so-called “vocal minority”.

Why can’t I fight this?

It is because those serving or who have served NS are in the minority in the first place!

With 16 new immigrants and only 5 new births a day, the NS minority will just keep shrinking in the years ahead
With 16 new immigrants and only 5 new births a day, the NS minority will just keep shrinking in the years ahead

Subtract the women, subtract the foreigners and you find that you have way less than half of the total Singapore population who have served or are currently serving NS.

Among these are those who truly love NS (I am happy for them and am sure they will continue to give their service even if NS is abolished one day), army regulars and such. Subtract these people, how many are there left?

I am very sure majority of us who have served or are currently serving feel a review needs to be in place to make the system more relevant to today’s globalized economy and work fairer for us in the workplace and in the civilian world.

However, if you conduct a survey across the entire population, this result will never show.

A fellow blogger, Reddotwinston, did a good dissertation on the flaws of the IPS survey. Here is one highlight I pulled out:

“Defense is a public good. Wait… national defense is a PURE public good. By that, it means that the consumption of the Good (in this case, defense) is non excludable and non rivalrous. By non excludable, it means once defense is provided, even people who don’t pay/contribute, cannot be excluded from the consumption of it. By non rivalrous, it means that your consumption of the good is not going to prevent/reduce my consumption of the good. The problem with goods that are public good especially those that are non excludable is the free-rider problem. Basically, people who don’t contribute/pay are still able to enjoy the benefits of it.

Now if you remember the story I had right from the start, all the gatherers in the village are all for sending 10 young strong hunters to the monster because they get to enjoy the benefit of clean air without having to pay the cost of living with the monster. By asking servicemen and public whether “NS is necessary for the defense of Singapore” and having 50% of your respondents being women, you kind of bias the response towards an agreement.”

Having a NS system build up a defense force which keeps Singapore safe. There is no argument to this. If you ask those who do not have to serve NS if a NS review is necessary, there is no reason for them to say no as they get to enjoy this benefit without having to put in anything. Ask them if they support the current NS system if they have to serve two years full-time and at least ten years part-time NS upon saying yes. Let’s see how the results will change.

Anyway, I accepted defeat.

I will just suck my thumb and shut up because I will always be deemed as an insignificant “vocal minority” – even though NSmen and NSF are an actual minority in this country and even though my opinion may represent the majority among this minority.

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Quoteworthy – Indonesia Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Agung Laksono

Via a news article on StraitsTimes.com:

Our favourite neighbour
Our favourite neighbour

 “Singapore shouldn’t be like children, in such a tizzy.” Said Indonesia Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono, commenting on the haze issue.

It is very hard to love thy neighbour with champions like this abang.

I did an online search on him. Other than being a minister, Laksono was a co-founder of Adam Air, a now defunct commercial airline, which was closed down after a series of accidents.

He is also a supporter of Iran’s nuclear program.

His credentials are pretty stellar indeed. When a person of such high moral standing scolds us, Singapore, we should be ashamed of ourselves for being so childish, constantly whining about a little bit of hazardous haze! Shame on us!

Fellow Singaporeans, if you are sorry for your childish behaviour and would like to offer the honourable Mr Laksono a sincere  apology, you can contact him at agung.laksono@menkokesra.go.id

Here is his office address, fax and telephone numbers via ASEAN website if you wish to write him a snail mail or visit him personally to apologise:

H.E. AGUNG LAKSONO
Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare
Jl. Merdeka Barat No. 3
Jakarta 10110, Indonesia
Phone: +62-21-3453055
Fax: +62-21-34832049
Email: agung.laksono@menkokesra.go.id

Quoteworthy – Pritam Singh, MP for Aljunied GRC

MP for Aljunied GRC, Pritam Singh (image via StraitsTimes.com)
MP for Aljunied GRC, Pritam Singh (image via StraitsTimes.com)

Extracted from MP for Aljunied GRC, Pritam Singh’s speech, delivered at the Committee of Supply debate on 11 March 2013:

“Today, Singaporean males have accepted that they can be called up for NS for up to 40 days a year for 10 years, and that is after they have completed their 2-year full-time NS stint. The point about NS is that Singaporean males do not just serve 2 years of NS, they serve a 10-year NS training cycle when they enter the workforce as well. While it may be operationally and bureaucratically inefficient to get new citizens to serve full-time NS for two years, it is not in the realm of imagination to conceive of new citizens up to the age of 30, serving a 10-year NS cycle till they are 40 years old, which is the current statutory age limit of service for many Singaporean NSmen.”

Spot on.

It is not just two years okay. It is freaking two + ten over years of disruptive reservist, IPPT, RT, IPT, silent/ open mobilisation and the need to apply for an exit permit every time I travel. For over a decade after I ORD, I am still unable to keep long hair; have to buy and keep an extra handphone with no camera features; and experience many other inconveniences of being a part-time soldier. These may seem insignificant individually, but is a major annoyance when you put everything together.

Every year during my birthday, the first one to greet me is always MINDEF, sending me a warning SMS to take/pass my IPPT or get charge.

I am not a full time soldier and I dislike being one.

Ten years is an awfully long time to do something one dislikes. How many ten years are there in one’s life?

Time I can spend with my son, time I can spend developing my hobby or career, I waste them in camp doing stupid guard duties.

It is time to level the playing field don’t you think?

No amount of monetary reward is going to buy back ten years of my life. Get it?

MP Pritam Singh FTW (though as usual, I doubt MINDEF would give two hoot).

People Born With Disabilities Should Have Access To Basic Healthcare Insurance Too – Denise Phua

If Denise Phua runs in my constituency for the  next election, I will definitely vote for her. Here is a PAP MP who truly cares for our country and make an effort to ensure no one is left behind by society:

“I am grateful that the Ministry of Health is committed to doubling healthcare expenses over the next 5 years. This is in response to our rapidly ageing population and increasing medical costs.

The review will benefit not only those from lower-income but also middle-income families. In addition, vulnerable groups such as those who live up to 90 and the mentally ill who require psychiatric treatment will now be covered.

There is however one group of people who may be left behind in this important healthcare review. These are Singaporeans who are unfortunately born with disabilities, either physical or otherwise.

Today, any person who is born with these illnesses are excluded from our national basic healthcare insurance scheme, MediShield; unlike their more fortunate fellow Singaporeans. Should they fall ill and require,for instance, hospitalization, 100% of all expenses will be paid from their family’s own pockets, in cash or their own Medisave.

My heart aches when I hear about the mixed public feedback on whether Singaporean children with congenital illnesses should be included in MediShield.

Image via Denise Phua's Facebook Page
Image via Denise Phua’s Facebook Page

Some are opposed to any increase in premium as a result of covering this group of Singaporeans. Others say that introducing insurance for this group could end up raising treatment costs. They claim that once insurance is available, then parents and doctors may want to pursue more expensive treatment, hence increasing the cost of healthcare in Singapore.

To both policy makers and the man in the street, I sincerely urge you to support the extension of MediShield to those who are born with congenital and neonatal conditions.

Healthcare belongs to the same class of essential services such as education, transport, housing, security; which all citizens expect as members of a nation.

Shouldn’t every Singaporean, in whatever condition they are born, enjoy equal access to basic healthcare? Would we not be ashamed if in an extreme situation of eg a national SARS outbreak, MediShield policy holders are treated more favourably than those who are left out of the Scheme?

As we struggle to enhance our country’s Total Fertility Rate, some couples may be discouraged to from having or having more children if they are aware that MediShield does not cover children with congenital or neonatal conditions. Indeed, which woman can guarantee giving birth to a perfectly healthy child? Who can be certain that the rest of us will never have a loved one who is denied access to a national healthcare insurance scheme?

As for those of us who are afraid that any enhancement will be abused, let us find ways to reduce the potential of abuse. For a start, all policy holders, not withstanding their medical condition, could be subject to the same terms and conditions of MediShield such as deductibles, co-insurance, and claim limits.

The fear of being taken advantage of – should not stop us from doing the right thing; whether we are individual citizens or policy makers. It should drive us to work harder to think of creative and constructive solutions that will make us proud to be part of a Singapore family.

The character and maturity of a people and nation is reflected in the way it treats its weakest.

Remember People born with defects did not ask to be born that way n are also the sons n daughters of the Singapore family. Treat them as we would treat our own family members.”

Denise Phua Lay Peng/ 潘丽萍/ 摩绵加冷集选区议员 萍良心说/ 隔周二刊登/ 31 July 2012 欢迎上 MY PAPER《我报》

Quoteworthy – Grace Fu Hai Yien

Grace Fu (image  via http://www.yuhuasmc.sg)
Grace Fu (image via http://www.yuhuasmc.sg)

Following the announcement of the recommendations on Ministerial pay cut by the Ministerial Salaries Review Committee, this is what our Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts & Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Grace Fu Hai Yien has to say on her Facebook page:

When I made the decision to join politics in 2006, pay was not a key factor. Loss of privacy, public scrutiny on myself and my family and loss of personal time were. The disruption to my career was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income. So it is with this recent pay cut. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering political office.

It sets me thinking. A top international lawyer like Chen Show Mao definitely took a very drastic pay cut when he entered into Singapore politics the hard way via the opposition ticket (no GRC to ride on the coat tail of an established Minister; risk of defamation and other occupational hazards faced by local opposition politicians).

I don’t recall any whining from Chen Show Mao on his “low” (in the context of our Ministers’ pay) MP allowance.

Entering politics should be about serving the greater good. Passion, not money, should be the main impetus.

PAP still needs sterling candidates to win back Aljunied GRC from the Workers’ Party at the next General Election. Perhaps Grace Fu should volunteer her service. It is a win-win situation for her. Even if she loses, she can follow in the footsteps of George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua to join the private sector and draw higher salaries than her current Ministerial salary.

Quoteworthy – Kwek Mean Luck, Deputy Secretary for Industry, MTI

Mr Kwek Mean Luck
Mr Kwek Mean Luck

Via Straits Times.com (Growth forecast raised to 5-7%, 20 May 2011):

“Coming from a high base in 2010, this represents a very healthy pace of growth for the economy,” said Mr Kwek Mean Luck, deputy secretary for industry at the MTI, on Thursday. “With this firm start to 2011, the economy is on track to deliver higher growth this year compared to what we have earlier anticipated.”

I know it’s juvenile to poke fun at someone’s name, but I really cannot help it when I read the above. In the light of looming recession, here comes someone with a very symbolic name from the civil service telling us that our economy is on track to deliver higher growth that what our government had earlier anticipated… hmmm.

Quoteworthy – Low Thia Khiang, Leader of the Workers’ Party

Low Thia Khiang (picture via The Online Citizen)
Low Thia Khiang (picture via The Online Citizen)

Via Yahoo! News. Low Thia Khiang, commenting on PAP’s organising secretary Dr Ng Eng Hen writing to The Straits Times forum page to criticise Workers’ Party’s “star” candidate, Chen Show Mao’s entry into politics:

“I really don’t understand why Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education, is asking those questions. Perhaps he has not read the Zaobao report, or he couldn’t understand Chinese?”

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