The PAP story, blemishes and all

Source: ST, 09 Sept 2009

What is Men In White all about? How different is it from previous books on Singapore’s ruling political party?

Let me clarify what the book is not.

It is not a re-telling of Singapore’s transformation from Third World ghetto to First World city, a story which Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew so vividly documented in his memoirs. It is also not about the PAP Government and the art of policy-making.

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Friends and foes under one roof

Source: ST, 09 Sept 2009

IT WAS a historic moment with friends and foes gathered together under the same roof where they last met more than four decades ago – at the Old Parliament House.

The occasion was the launch of a new book on the People’s Action Party (PAP), which brought together Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his former political rivals.

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Another bit of history

Source: ST, 09 Sept 2009

MORE than one for the album, this was a picture for the history books.

If not for the numerous photographs capturing the moment, many would have scarcely believed what took place yesterday in the Old Parliament House – in the same chamber where the People’s Action Party (PAP) fought its fiercest battles with its breakaway faction, the Barisan Sosialis, in the early 1960s.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, a PAP founder, exchanged smiles and warm handshakes with those who had been his rivals from the country’s early years.

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Whither Temasek’s industry nurturing role?

Source: Straits Times, 08 Sept 2009

A COLLEAGUE remarked to me the other day that something had struck him as he read Temasek Holdings’ updated charter released last month: Nowhere in the 200-word document is there a mention of Singapore.

There is talk of delivering long-term value for its stakeholders and being an active investor. There is talk of Temasek’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. The five areas where it wants to work with its portfolio companies – including values, human capital and strategic options – are listed. But there is nothing to identify Temasek as Singaporean. Indeed, it might have been the charter or mission statement of any private sector investment firm, my friend said.

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Inflation hits poorest 20% twice as hard

Source: Straits Times, 25 Aug 2009

This group was affected most by food and housing prices in first six months

By Joyce Teo

SINGAPORE’s poorest 20 per cent were hit twice as hard by inflation than better off households during the first half of the year, new Government figures show.

Largely because of rising food and housing prices, the low-income group experienced inflation at 1.6 per cent in the six months to June, compared to 0.7 per cent for the middle 60 per cent and 0.9 per cent for the top 20 per cent of households.

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How HDB keeps it affordable

ST Letter by Ignatius Lourdesamy, 31 Aug 2009

WE REFER to the letters, ‘High HDB prices: Squeezed even harder’ and ‘Two shortcomings: Public housing too correlated to private market, and HDB has not regulated supply’ (both Aug 22); and ‘Flat hunting: Why was cash over valuation ever introduced?’ (Aug 20).

# Cash over valuation: Resale flat prices are the result of negotiations between willing buyers and sellers. Cash over valuation (COV) arises when buyers are willing to pay more than the market value of the flat, as determined by professional valuers.

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How HDB keeps it affordable

ST Letter by Chew Kim Cheer, 22 Aug 2009

THE HDB resale price index has surged relentlessly since 2007. Since the first quarter of 2007, the index has increased 35.3 per cent and is now at a record high, even though the economy is still recovering from downturn.

This is an anomaly the Government should examine.

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Recognition for the way IMH handles its patients

Source: Straits Times, 26 Aug 2009

SEVERELY mentally disturbed patients at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) now spend far less time strapped to their beds or in straitjackets.

They also spend less time – 21 days, down from the previous 27 – in the hospital’s eight-month-old high-dependency psychiatric care unit before being moved to the general wards.

The IMH’s approach in handling acutely disturbed patients bagged it the Most Outstanding Project prize in the Customer Service Project category of the recent Asian Hospital Management Awards held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Temasek May Hire Internal Candidate for Goodyear Replacement

Source: Bloomberg, 28 July 2009

July 28 (Bloomberg) — Temasek Holdings Pte said it will consider promoting an internal manager after abandoning plans to make Charles “Chip” Goodyear the first foreign chief executive officer of Singapore’s state-owned investment fund.

“Temasek has in place a CEO succession planning process,” Temasek said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Our board reviews external and internal candidates over various time horizons.”

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Women’s group proposes new authority to make ex-spouses pay up

Source: Channel News Asia, 27 July 2009

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) is proposing that a new body be set up to enforce the payment of monthly maintenance sums from an ex-spouse to his or her family.

Statistics show that even with a court-issued maintenance order, 1,700 people – mainly women – had to apply for the orders to be enforced last year.

Nearly half of the 1,700 had to apply at least twice – a process that could take months if ex-spouses keep on defaulting on payments.

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Residents call for more transparency in use of sinking funds by town councils

Source: Channel News Asia, 27 July 2009

SINGAPORE: Singapore residents have called for greater transparency over the way town councils’ sinking funds are used.

The issue was discussed at a recent dialogue session on town council financial management aimed at helping the National Development Ministry draft a score card for town councils.

Some of the service and conservancy charges paid by housing estate residents every month go towards improvement works like covered walkways and railings. But the bulk goes into a sinking fund for long-term maintenance projects and to guard against a rainy day.

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Lift veil over NMP selection

Source: Straits Times, 28 July 2009

GIVEN that Nominated Members of Parliament have been around for 19 years, it is perplexing that the scheme has yet to evolve clear and consistent criteria for the selection of an NMP.

Ordinary Singaporeans – including aspiring NMPs – do not really know what the parliamentary selection committee looks for when it interviews potential NMPs. The selection committee currently consists of seven People’s Action Party MPs and one opposition MP, and is chaired by Speaker Abdullah Tarmugi. This issue of clarity deserves to be taken more seriously since the NMP scheme will soon be a permanent part of the political system.

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Investment products: Banks tighten rules

Source: Straits Times, 09 July 2009

Cooling off period; extra care with elderly investors; better training
By Fiona Chan

BANKS are becoming stricter on how they sell investment products after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) found lapses in the sale of structured products linked to failed investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Just hours after the MAS released its investigation findings yesterday afternoon, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) announced a raft of measures that the industry will put in place to protect the interests of consumers who buy investment products.

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Passport mix-up man a bankrupt

Source: Straits Times, 09 July 2009

A growing number like him have flouted rule on unauthorised travel
By Carolyn Quek & Teh Joo Lin

WHEN a retiree flew to Vietnam on his son’s passport in June last year, the immigration authorities came under fire.

But it has since come to light that his son – an undischarged bankrupt barred from unauthorised travel – had used that same passport in the year before the incident to make 30 trips abroad without official approval.

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Payouts just a fraction of total cash invested

Source: Straits Times, 08 July 2009

THE compensation offered by financial institutions to investors pales in comparison to the total amount that was initially invested in the toxic structured notes, according to latest figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Brokerage firm UOB Kay Hian offered the lowest proportion – just 1 per cent or $90,000 of the amount spent on the Lehman-linked notes it sold.

Hong Leong Finance paid out the highest proportion – 66.9 per cent or $57.6 million – to investors who complained that they were mis-sold.

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Malays in SAF: It concerns nation, not race

ST letter by Mr Osman Sidek, 01 July 2009
ST link

LAST Friday’s report, ‘Meet the SAF’s first Malay general’, referred to the disclosure in 1987 by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) of its cautious approach in placing Malays in key positions in the military.

Many pragmatic Malays appreciate this frankness and understand the SAF’s difficulty. Being a multiracial nation in a largely ethnic Malay region, Singapore’s defence is posed a major strategic problem when Malays are placed in key military positions, so the argument goes.

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The sex divide across the Atlantic

Source: Straits Times, 01 July 2009

DISGRACED South Carolina governor Mark Sanford must wish he was Italian.

For, while Mr Sanford’s political life hangs by a thread because he was caught visiting a mistress while claiming to be on a mountaineering holiday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has just shrugged off accusations of involvement in orgies with prostitutes without a dent to his popularity.

Why do American voters usually punish politicians caught with their trousers around their ankles, while their European counterparts seldom care? No conclusive answer can be provided of course, but there is no shortage of likely explanations.

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Asia’s Sorry Human Rights Record

ALSO attached below: The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for 2009, with regards to Singapore.

Source: Asia Sentinel, 19 June 2009

Asian values apparently don’t protecting individuals from exploitation.

Asian governments variously proclaim commitment to Asian values, Confucian, Islamic or Marxist principles or the rule of statute law. Or all of them. But when it comes to human rights, to enforcing laws intended to protect individuals and families alike from exploitation, greed, slavery and discrimination somehow the values are forgotten in favor of money or convenience.

The latest report by the US State Department on Human Trafficking makes dismal reading, particularly for those countries which have the financial and governmental resources to do something about it which must include Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau.

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Why men should not be entitled to alimony

Source: Straits Times, 22 June 2009

By Andy Ho, Senior Writer

LAST year, some 3,266 women had to turn to the courts to get their alimony orders enforced. With divorces and annulments rising from 5,825 in 2002 to 7,220 last year, this problem can only get worse.

But why alimony at all? While providing child support and splitting assets acquired during a marriage make obvious sense, lawyers say that there is no coherent theory why the law should burden men with obligations to their ex-wives.

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