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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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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Why teaching youth about condoms is important

ST letter by Jolene Tan Siyu (Ms), 25 May 2009

ST link

I REFER to last Wednesday’s Forum Online letter, “Useful programme except for condom excerpt” by Mr Steven Tan, in which he argues that teaching youth about condom use will “confuse” them into unprotected sexual activity.

Last November, it was reported in the media that one in four sexually active women does not use birth control.

A 2002 profile of women going for abortions at the National University Hospital found that 75.5 per cent were married and a large proportion did not use birth control regularly.

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ST letter: Teach sex education in context of meaningful relationships

ST letter by Karen Chew (Mrs)

ST link

I READ with interest the reports on how sex education is needed to counter worrying trends and the approaches to be taken.

There is one important factor missing in all the discussions and that is the context in which sex happens – in a relationship.

Sex education is not just about teaching how sex takes place or when sexuality is aroused. Nor is it about accepting the barrage of emotions involved in exploring alternative lifestyles. These make up only one component of sex education.

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Why Temasek sold its stake in BoA

ST letter by Myrna Thomas (Ms), Corporate Affairs Temasek Holdings
ST link

I REFER to recent reports and commentaries on Temasek’s divestment of its Bank of America (BoA) stake. We would like to clarify some of the points raised.

Temasek invests with the objective of delivering sustainable returns over the long term. This means our investment strategy is not aimed at delivering target returns on a year-by-year basis. This is why we report our portfolio returns not just for a single year, but for various time horizons in our annual Temasek Review.

To achieve our investment objectives, we constantly review our portfolio and rebalance it from time to time. We may choose to divest an investment, even at a loss, to optimise our risk or portfolio exposures, or if there are better opportunities elsewhere or later. We may also choose to hold or increase our existing investments.

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ST letter by Steven Tan: Useful programme except for condom excerpt

ST letter by Steven Tan
ST link

I RECENTLY came to know that upper secondary and junior college students go through an educational programme on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids), called Breaking Down Barriers, by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

Besides providing accurate facts about STIs, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Aids, the programme also imparts useful skills to students, such as decision-making and the right places to obtain reliable information, as well as assertiveness and strategies on how not to succumb to persuasion.

I was truly heartened to learn that the students were taught that the best way to avoid STIs and Aids is to avoid casual sex, sex with multiple partners and unprotected sex, and to stay faithful to a partner within the context of marriage.

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Gay activists a key constituency of Aware

ST letter by Thio Su Mien
ST link

I REFER to last Saturday’s letter, ‘Aware has never had a ‘gay agenda” by Ms Dana Lam, president of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware). Since I was specifically mentioned, a response is called for.

First, the fact that Aware has done sterling work for women in the 24 years of its existence is not disputed. The ‘ex-new exco’, in its press statement, acknowledged this contribution and declared its commitment to build on these foundations.

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Ex-Aware panel members voice distress at ‘sacking’

ST letter by Azmeen Moiz (Ms)

ST link

AS COMMITTEE members of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), we are disturbed by the sacking of not just the chair, Ms Braema Mathi, but also the entire sub-committee.

On April 16, honorary treasurer Sally Ang of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) informed Ms Mathi by e-mail that the latter’s term had ceased as of the date of the annual general meeting (AGM). On April 18, she said in an e-mail: ‘May I reiterate that under the Aware Constitution, the Cedaw sub-committee that you chaired had been dissolved and your office as chairman ceased on the date of the AGM, March 28.’

We say sacked because:

# To the best of our knowledge, no other committee or chair was informed under the Constitution that it had been dissolved – only the Cedaw committee;

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Paying lip service to ‘addressing concerns’?

ST link

ST letter by Mr Lawrence Loh

I READ Mr Victor Khoo’s Forum letter (‘Minibonds: Bank adamant despite MAS advice’, March 27), and ABN Amro’s reply yesterday, ‘Minibonds: Bank ready to address client’s concerns’, with a sense of deja vu.

As a victim of the Minibonds saga, I first wrote to the Forum page on Oct 12 last year. ABN Amro replied on Oct 14. This was followed by an interview with the bank’s representatives on Oct 22, during which my wife and I furnished all the information we had to support our claim that we were mis-sold the product by both the relationship manager and the bank.

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Doc shortage: Why didn’t we see it early?

ST letter by Mr Joey Teo

ST link

I REFER to yesterday’s article, ‘1,000 foreign-trained docs still not enough’.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan commented on the need to think about increasing the number of locally trained doctors due to the growing population. Within a short period of three years, 1,000 foreign-trained doctors have been recruited, but it is not enough.

A simple calculation reveals that our medical school will need at least four years to train that number, based on the current picture of 250 to 300 medical students trained each year. Moreover, this is an underestimate of the time required as I believe Duke-NUS Medical School focuses on training clinical researchers rather than doctors to cater to the ill.

This means that, in the next four to five years before the new medical school produces its first batch of trained doctors, there will be a need to employ even more foreign-trained doctors. Pardon the overly simple extrapolation, but the message that there is an imbalance of supply and demand is clear.

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Get master tenants to pass on benefits to property users

ST letter by Mr Tan Suan Tiu

ST link

I AM an entrepreneur running a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and am heartened by the Government’s bid to alleviate the effects of the downturn with several measures, one of which is to provide rental rebates to properties leased from JTC Corporation, the Housing Board and Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

These rental rebates, which comprise 15 per cent of the rents payable, are intended to help tenants, licensees and lessees by lowering their costs and steadying their cashflow.

My company has a staff strength of 15 and we are located in a building as sub-tenants of a master tenant who leased the building from the SLA. We renewed our lease with SLA’s master tenant in mid-2008. Then, our master tenant, a listed company, informed us that due to market conditions, it would have to raise the rents.

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No action on phone threat

‘No one from the police has called. If the caller’s intention was real, wouldn’t we be harmed by now? How do the police decide which cases to investigate first?’

MADAM TAN LIAN GIM: ‘My husband received a verbal threat via his mobile phone last Wednesday. The caller, who knew my husband’s name, threatened to inflict bodily harm on him and his family. My husband made a police report the same day at the Bedok North station. No one from the police post has called us since. If the caller’s intention was real, wouldn’t we be dead or harmed by now? I have read reports about how the police acted swiftly when similar threats were made against a grassroots leader. How do the police decide which cases to investigate first in apparently similar reports?’

No point reporting attack on train, victim told

ST letter by Mr Poh Yi Hao, 11 Mar 09

ST link

I WAS attacked on a train last Friday by a commuter who failed to obtain a seat from me. My assailant pushed me to the ground and pummelled me repeatedly.

When I reported the matter at the control booth in the Bugis station, I was advised to seek treatment and lodge a police report.

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Heart-attack care: Transparency the best policy

ST letter by Ms Lee Wei Ling
ST link

IN MY column, ‘Righting a wrong comes from the heart’, last Sunday, I described the status of treatment of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in the public health-care sector. I stated the facts which were accurate up to Jan 1 this year. I felt that both the public and general practitioners (GPs) should have the relevant information about the capabilities of all our public-sector hospitals.

I wrote about it because my medical school classmate, a GP, was flabbergasted when I told her that Tan Tock Seng Hospital had no round-the-clock capability to open up obstructed heart arteries by ‘ballooning’ on an emergency basis.

Another medical school classmate, a specialist in the private sector, was forced by the SCDF ambulance to have her mother admitted to Tan Tock Seng last month and there was no doctor capable of doing ballooning on an emergency basis until she found one to do so.

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Wage claims still difficult in practice

ST letter by Mr Jack Chew
ST link

I AM writing in response to Tuesday’s letter by the Ministry of Manpower, ‘Help with foreign workers’ wage claims’.

Contrary to what was stated – that foreign workers’ claims will be ‘investigated and pursued, even if they have returned to their home countries’, so long as they have lodged a claim with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) – I am obliged to agree with migrant worker activist Jolovan Wham that Singapore’s labour laws offer little real protection to foreign workers.

I have personally encountered cases where workers cannot even meet MOM officers to discuss the injustice done to them by their employers because their work permits have been cancelled.

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Perm sec agreed article was ill-judged

ST letter by Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service
ST link

I THANK everyone who has given views on Permanent Secretary Tan Yong Soon’s article (‘Cooking up the holiday spirit’, Jan 6).

The Civil Service agrees with the sentiments expressed by several of the writers that, while what Mr Tan does on holiday is his personal decision, civil servants, particularly the senior leadership, must be sensitive to and empathise with Singaporeans whom we serve.

This had been clearly stated in Parliament by the Minister in charge of the Civil Service, Mr Teo Chee Hean, and conveyed in my letter to Mr Tan. Mr Tan has apologised to me, acknowledging that his article was ill-judged and insensitive to the feelings of Singaporeans.

Peter Ho
Head, Civil Service

Fresh ideas needed to help professionals

ST letter by Mr Gilbert Goh
ST link

I REFER to Saturday’s report, ‘Labour movement’s top 3 priorities’, which listed Labour chief Lim Swee Say’s top three priorities for Singaporeans in the current downturn.

The priorities are similar to those adopted in the past few crises Singapore experienced. The first – cutting costs to save jobs – is obvious as companies will continue trimming costs to cope with the recession.

The second – retraining – is a constant refrain and echoes the Government’s call during the Sars crisis in 2003.

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Danes pay hefty taxes to enjoy welfare system

ST letter by Clarissa Oon

THOUGH the Danes love their welfare system, it is not free of flaws.

Two downsides plague the system: the high cost of maintaining it and the labour shortage it has created.

Danes pay high taxes to enjoy their welfare state. A worker can pay anything between 43 and 63 per cent of his personal income – those who earn more, pay more.

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SMEs frustrated by initiative to save jobs

ST letter by Aileen Ng (Ms)

ST link

WE APPLAUD the recent announcement of various initiatives by the Government to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) survive this crisis and save jobs. However, SMEs often experience significant frustration accessing such well-intended measures.

For example, the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (Spur), intended to save jobs, was announced recently, and employers are encouraged to send their workers for training during this economic downturn. Our company is fully supportive of the Government’s call. On Thursday morning at 8.30am, we checked the website of the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) on the Spur initiative but could not find any training programmes relevant to our business.

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