Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are HDB flats really that affordable?

Recently my new colleague asked me how much is my flat's monthly payment as he wants to get an idea of how much his will be if he is successful in the balloting exercise for flat in Punggol.

He remarked that what I am paying is expensive. I was shocked because by any current standard, what I am paying is really low.

Since the flat he is balloting for cost 2.4 times more than mine and the amount he can use from his CPF account for the downpayment is similar to mine, by simple calculation, even if he stretched his loan period to the max, he is looking at 3 times of what I am paying and practically 60% of his pay. This time he was the one who was terribly shocked.

'So why did the minister said that HDB flats are still afforable?' he asked. I can sense the confusion and disbelief by his facial expression. To quote the X-Files, the truth is out there.

With CPF, you may not be paying a single cent of cash for your flat but your CPF may be zero after each monthly deduction. Come retirement day, you've got nothing to draw out from.

Some say we can sell the flat then and make use of the profit for retirement but if this trend continues, we will be spending bulk of that sum for a new flat. We are back to square one. What does that left us with?

6 years ago, my flat cost 2.4 times lower than the current price HDB is selling. Has my pay increased by 2.4 times? I wish!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Foreign Talent or Cheap Labour?

Recent speech by Hsien Loong on how the government will look into its policy when it comes to foreign talent is proof that the ground is not happy. If not, why would he bother right?

Three things when it comes to this subject.

1. Talent or cheap manpower?

Anyone can argue till cows go home that FTs are employed because they more skilled than locals or that no locals can fill in the post but if given a choice between locals and FTs with the exact same skills, it is a no brainer which most employers will choose. Coupled that with no NS or pregnancies for employers to worry about, it's a done deal.

2. Assimilation

The government expects us to help assimilate these people into the society. In other words, pushing the work to us when they are the ones brought this problem to us in the first place.

Why is assimilation important? Because that is how you build a multi-racial society that tolerates each other. When you have a bunch of people who don't care about other people, then you will have a society very divided.

FTs from Malaysia are different because Malaysia is practically similar to Singapore in terms of culture etc. That is why we had no problem with Malaysian FT since the beginning of time. In fact I do not have any problems with any FT who made the effort to blend in.

I have a non-Malaysian in my workplace. He just finished his 3 years studies. Right after completion, the government send him an invitation letter for a permanent residency. It is that easy. They don't even need apply.

Even though he's been here for 4 years, he do not know anything about the Malays and why Muslims fast and what is Hari Raya. How on earth is that possible after 4 years? If he is really interested, he would have checked it out but he did he? If it was not for me, he would have remain ignorant by choice for many more years and simply see the Malays as non existent. This applies to every thing local like culture etc. Why bother with PCK campaigning for commuters to be more gracious when these FTs don't even care in the first place?

3. Are we really that talentless?

According to the government, yes we are bunch of good for nothing. That is why they are worth millions while we are not worth even an FT. They defended their high pay but they dismissed us when its our turn.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's an omen

After the Malaysian opposition denied the ruling party 2/3 majority and 5 states, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 308 seats in the 480-member lower house on Sunday, ending more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

As they say, nothing last forever. No matter how you try to stay in power, if you pissed the voters off, you'll get booted out sooner or later. Count on it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

OPC scheme tweaked

Authorities has finally announced the changes.

(a) e-Day Licence to replace the current paper licence;

What this means is that you can use you OPC first and then pay for it later before 2359hrs the next day. You can do that at ONE.MOTORING portal, AXS stations, using mobile-SMS service, Singapore Post outlets and Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) offices.

With this implementation, you will no longer be stopped by LTA officers to check if you have a valid coupon. Instead they will simply take note of your license plate and check against their record to see if you have made payments.

There are many ways to check if you use your car. ERP gantries is one of them.

(b) Revisions to the OPC scheme to allow unrestricted usage on Saturdays and on the eves of 5 public holidays;

From end Jan 2010, you can opt for a new scheme that allows unrestricted use on days where currently you can use your OPC from 3pm onwards, namely Saturdays and the eves of 5 major public holidays. Your annual road tax discount will be reduced to $500 and the minimum payable annual road tax is raised to $70.

You can check here on how much is your road tax before the discount.

(c) Cash Rebates for conversion of normal cars to the new OPC scheme of up to $1,100 for every six months' registration as an OPC.

If you convert your car to OPC, you will get $1.1.k every 6 months which means $2.2k every year and $500 more compared to a car registered as OPC.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to earth

The immortal had to descend down and bring everyone else back to earth. The place up there is reserved for only his kind so everyone should not dream of it ever.

And did someone say he has passed his reign over?

Anyway, he'll go up there for good soon and can be immortal forever.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does it matter?

Yasmin Ahmad's death is a loss to anyone who loves the arts. Films and advertisements with her touch left a profound effect on anyone who understands the message behind them.

After the news that she was a intersexual or had went for a sex change, many put her down, citing religion as the basis of their so called 'judgments'.

If religion is the basis, then I am one of her defenders because I have always believed that we are simply mortal humans at the mercy of God's judgment. Before we judge anyone else, we must remember that we have never been bestowed that power by God.

If Yasmin had cause any distress to you, write a note and bring it before God when the day comes because she is no longer around to you answer you.

Else, does one's history matters when they done no harm to anyone?

Have a good journey Kak Yasmin. Thanks for all that you've done.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Open invitation to Eric J. Brooks

I refer to this letter by Eric J. Brooks published in the Straits Times.

Thank you Eric for reminding us how lucky we are. He claimed to have known for a long time that no country takes care of its people the way Singapore does. This is after he had lived and worked in six countries.

So I would be grateful if Eric could tell us why is he still holding on to his Canadian passport if Singapore is the best country he had lived and worked in? You cannot recommend something you claimed to be best to a friend but you yourself using something else right? That don't reflect well on one's credibility.

Couple of reasons I can think of why he is not a Singapore citizen yet.

- he has applied but got rejected
- application is still pending
- he plans to
- he never even gave it a thought

I hope to see his pink identification card soon and welcome his hopefully as my neighbour. As the saying goes, walk the talk.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guaranteed monthly amount is not feasible

CPF Life payouts are for life although the law does not provide for it, assured Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong. But premiums and payouts are at the Government's discretion. A guaranteed monthly amount is not feasible and that it would be adjusted regularly to ensure the fund's solvency.

Does that sound right to you? Two things here.

1. Payouts are for life but not written in law. That means, they can simply say 'thank you for your money' and stop paying you in the future when the fund runs out.

2. The payout can be any amount and just have to suck your thumb if it's peanuts (not Mrs Goh's version of peanuts, mind you)

So do you have a choice to opt out? Sorry. Law says you are in if you have over $40k in your CPF which means they'll take your money and will assure you the above.

And compare this with the one reported by CNA where this crucial information are excluded. Strange? Not not all coming from a state's times.

Previously, the scam scheme forfeits the balance payout if you kick the bucket earlier than than the period covered. After strong objections from the ground, they change to this risk-free (to them) plan.

I am so blessed to be a Singaporean!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No shame

I refer to the article Government in talks with Marina Bay Sands over delay where one of the cause is a possible staff shortage as observers note Singaporeans tend to shy away from the gaming industry.

Are there figures to back up this claim or this is just another excuse not to employ locals, the direct opposite why the IR was built in the first place?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rest poor child

This article is specially written for my love who is still distraught by the death of Michael Jackson.

I have always believed, and still do, that Michael Jackson had a very troubled childhood. Having it robbed by his overnight rise to stardom, he longs to correct it even till his death.

Most do not see the evidence - the ranch, his love for children, his inability to make good decisions when it comes to managing his life; clear cut signs that he is still a child at heart. Instead people are busy milking every single cent in his name while they can. His death means the cash register will be busy for sometime and probably a long time too.

Being a star is not all glimmers. The list of those whose life turn for the worse, even with the term poverty erased from their dictionary, is endless. As a star, just like a politician, you lose your privacy. In order to protect whatever you have left, you tend to be a very private person, with only those close to you as friends or family. Problem is, are those people really your friends or family? We all know how money and greed can make some people do even the most despicable things.

Most people only know him either because of his fame, his weird face or because of his molest case. Those who thinks he turned wacko because of his declining popularity should consider the fact that the main reason for his comeback concert is his children. Those who thinks he is a wacko for performing numerous operations on his face should consider the fact that with a proper advice, no one would want to torture themselves that way. Those who thinks that he a pedophile should consider the that fact that if he was rich and money was involved here.

All he wanted was to relive his childhood, and make it a happy one but many are still blind to the reason why he is weird, strange or whatever label they came out with. They forget that most people who are talented are 'different'. That is reason why they are talented. If they are the same as any normal people, they would be normal and not talented.

You no longer need to prove to anyone anymore Michael. It's time to rest.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Once bitten twice shy

My mother was admitted to hospital after she complained of difficulty in breathing caused by her blood pressure that is sky high. She has been on and off the medication. She on it when she's not feeling good but off it once she feels fine. But I feel at fault too for not attending to the medical complaints fast enough due to work. All I can do is just to do better next time round.

Doc says that she might need to have her blocked arteries ballooned up this time, just like my late dad did. My late dad passed away two months after having the operation. It was not the operation that killed him. It's his inability to recuperate fast enough after that, due to his age. My mom is around his age too now.

It's like deja vu all over again. I still remember the doc asking for permission to go ahead with the procedure if my siblings and I agree on that over medication. This time however, no way in hell I will agree on any procedure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why stop at cats? Kill humans too

I refer to this article Why kill a cat over scratches on car

All I have to say is that I wish I was there to see how miserable she be the day her car gets the first dent caused by the car parked next to hers or the first chipped paint on the bonnet caused by a flying pebbles on the road because believe me, that day will come even if Singapore eradicates itself of all cats.

Dents and chipped paint are way worse compared to any faint scratches that a cat might make. So should we provide her with her own personal parking space all around the island or 'cull' all pebbles on the road? If not then I suggest she sue HDB or URA for not designating her own parking lot or sue LTA too for not keeping the roads free of pebbles.

Put it this way. Humans are the biggest culprit when it comes to scratches on a car. Maybe we should cull all other humans and let the woman live by herself and her car up there in the snob paradise.

This is what I call idiocy at its best.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Budget travelling on Jetstar

I recently went on a budget trip to Perth on Jetstar. I was glad that all the horror stories I've heard and read regarding budget airlines did not happen during my flight.

Since carriers charge really low nowadays, more people can afford to fly. I therefore compile a list of things that can be useful if you want to travel on a budget.

I have not tried the rest of the budget airlines but since Jetstar left a good impression on me and I will definitely fly with them again, the following are based on a Jetstar flight.

Booking
It is always cheaper online and book months earlier. Booking nearer to flight dates always equals expensive fares.

Flight
Choose a night flight. This allows you to sleep especially for long journeys which means you save on meals and/or entertainment on the plane too. Also, reaching your destination early in the day means you save on a day's accommodation the night before and have time to explore your destination before you check in to your accomodation.

Baggage
A JetSaver Lite fare allows a maximum of 10kg carry on baggage. If you travel in pairs and need a total of >20kg but <40kg of baggage allowance, then get the JetSaver plan at an additional $20 for only one of you. This adds another 20kg to your allowance and you can have the option to check it in. To do this, book two tickets separately. To ensure that both of you get side by side seats, open up two browsers and book each ticket simultaneously.

Seats
Jetstar flies the Airbus 320 where all seats are similar. Avoid seats 29D-29F because the back of the seats is the toilet wall which means you cannot recline the seats like the rest. Although the other seats can recline only one step, it is still better than nothing. Also, the baggage compartment above seats in the row 28 and above are taken up by the crew and their equipments so if you like easy access to your baggage along the way, take this into consideration.

Entertainment
Jetstar has an in-flight portable entertainment unit that cost AUD10.



This is really worth the money for a long trip. It comes with a stereo earpiece which you can share with another person. Flight can be noisy so the volume might not be enough even at full blast if you share. So get a stereo jack splitter and bring your own additional earpiece so that both of you can have full stereo audio with less noise.

Food
You can pre-pay your meals and enjoy unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, such as water, juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee during your international flight. Select the FEED ME option for $25-$30 each way for just one of you if needed. Share your meals with your partner.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Aunt Aggie

Happened to find this within my junks of mail. It's me advising someone with her troubled relationship.

It may sound as if I am asking her to let her boyfriend step all over her but to me it is like dealing with a trouble kid. You can't use force or they'll rebel further. So hopefully the following will help someone else in a similar situation.

And take note of the 2nd last paragraph. That's the gist of it.

I know how you are feeling right now. If I am right, you feel that you've done so much - giving in etc but not being reciprocated. You are absolutely right.

If you have given up, then there is nothing I can help you out with. But if you think that you still want to try, then you just need to be a little more patient.

Getting someone else to talk to him is not a good idea. To me, and I believe to him too, it is interfering into your affairs. He might get even angrier that you did not go to him first but chose a third party instead. From what you've told me, I believe he wants to work it out too even though he did not seem to. Thing is, just like you, he do not know how.

Him being hot tempered and feeling inferior to you just makes invoking his anger easier. People who feel inferior will tend to wall up and use a callous attitude as a defense mechanism. You have to accept that he will do that. You cannot change him, just like most women who will cry if they got upset. What you can change is how he sees you, as someone who is not an enemy but instead his best friend. When that happens, whatever advice to give him, he will accept and listen, provided it is done correctly. He needs to see that you are on his side.

You know his background and you know his limitation, financially etc. Use that info to your advantage, not his to vent his anger.

First of all, my advice is to learn how to get to his head. If you can find that avenue, you would find it easier to communicate with him. Remember, he is fire. You don't fight fire with fire. I know you feel that you are giving in too much but don't forget, he do not know what the hell he is doing wrong. Until you can get him to realise it, he, in a way is not totally at fault.

1. Anger

Hot tempered people need to realize that what they are doing is wrong. I know you don't like to be yelled at etc, so you've got to let him know. Teach him how to control his anger by letting him know when he is doing it. If he raises his voice at you, tell him nicely not to do that. You can say like "Dear, don't yell, please. Talk to me nicely".

Don't get angry yourself or be sarcastic or make him feel like you are trying to be someone in control of him but rather someone who is longing for him to be gentle. If he still continue, then tell him nicely "You're angry. We put down the phone ok?". If he stops yelling thank him to let him know that you appreciate it.

The point is, let him think he is in control but actually you are. If you tell him not to yell and he listens, who is in control? You or him? Let him think that he is in control by seeing that you are nice to him. It's like training a pet.

2. Money

This is sensitive issue. It always is.

If you want him to show that you are worth more than just money to him, then make him do it. If he says he can't take you out, so be it. Wait until the day he wants to take you out which means he got everything covered.

I can guarantee you that if you keep doing this, he will be miserable not being able to be with you. If he's not, then you know then that he is not for you.

When he do take you out, thank him at the end of the day. Again, let him feel appreciated. Problem is you have to endure yourself not being able to see him often too.


3. Time

This is kind of related to the above.

You can ask but if he don't want to, then tell him "It's ok" but don't sound pissed. You're disappointed and sad so say things like "so sad, I was looking forward to see you". Then don't call him for the whole day. If he asked why, lie and say that you went out.

It is even better if you actually do go out, especially when he call you and he knows you're out. Let him know that you are looking forward to spend your day outside with him but if he can't then that's too bad. Doing this, he will feel a bit guilty that you spend you day alone or with other people and not him. It may even make him realise that he might be redundant. Again, if he don't care not spending time with you, then that's your sign that he's not for you.

4. Listening ear

If you want to confide to him about your day, let him know first that you want to do that. SMS something like "I am feeling stressed. Need to let it out by talking to you. Are you free?" If he calls then it means he wants to listen. If not, then he don't want to. What is the point if he don't want to and in the end he gets angry right?

Do it a couple of times and he will see that you need him without forcing him. Men only wants to make their women happy and if you do this way, then he will know that this is one way to make you happy. Again, always say thank you when he do.

5. Correcting him

This is very intricate.The main thing you need always remember is to show that you respect him. Egoistic men feeds on respect by their women.

Before you correct him off him say something like "Dear, can I say something? But don't get angry please". Always sound that you are not blaming or belittling him. Sound like you are lost and hard for you to correct him but you need to and that it is for the best for your relationship. If he gets angry, apologise that you speak up and make him know you are keeping it instead. Men cannot take it if women refuse to tell the truth. Say something like "Sorry if I made you angry. It's ok, I just keep it until you want to talk about it." If he yells, then refer on top. If he accepts, then say thank you etc.


I know this sounds like you need to give in a lot but like I said, it is about training. You train him, you'll get what you want. Objective is to get what you want. Once he is trained, you can get him to do what you want. Concentrate on getting him to do good and let go of his bad points for the moment. Let him know indirectly that he needs to change and that you appreciate when he do.

If all the above fails, then it simply means he do not appreciate you. There is only one thing left for you do to which is to leave him and move on.

I wish you the best.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sincerity

I seriously do not know what happened last night. I expected the worst but it turned out surprising well.

All I know is that being sincere is all that matters. Retribution/karma works both ways.

Aware saga

The recent AWARE saga raises the following points.

1. Secular organisation

How true that the ex-exco headed by Josie Lau is closely link to Christianity is anyone's guess but I agree that AWARE should remain secular. It's only concern are women, regardless race, language or religion.

2. Inclusive

Again, women, regardless of sexual orientation too.

3. Homosexuality

I think sex education should include anything that is common. If you hide it, then it is the same as not talking about sex to the young which defeats the purpose of sex education.

However, sex education to the young is not the same as sex education for adults. Adults wants to explore, while the young needs to be aware of the consequences eg pregnancy etc. Huge difference.

I have no problem with the part where anal sex is included in the sex education by Aware because anal sex is sex, just is oral sex . However, it should not be an avenue for exploration, not to the young. You don't teach the young the karma sutra right?

So the context of it is important and it should apply throughout be it anal or not.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Redemption

There are things that happened in my life that I am not proud of but 2 days ago, the window of opportunity for redemption was opened and I'm taking it along with gratitude to those who pointed me to it.

I'm doing this for myself, not for anyone else because trying to meet up to other people's expectation is a selfish act as it only means you are doing it to get approval of others, not your own.

If I am right, that window will continue to be opened and lead me to another one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Time to wake up

New bills were passed recently in parliament.

Parliament passes new Bill to manage law and order

The ones that are a cause for concern are

- police officers have new powers to issue pre-emptive "move-on" orders, which will be in written form, ordering demonstrators not to congregate at the intended rally area, or give them a chance to leave without getting arrested.

- police will also have powers to stop the filming of ongoing security operations and seize such materials so that operations are not compromised.

First of all, I would to comment on the article itself because reading it made me feel like puking. Instead of being a neutral party, they sounded supportive towards the justification of the passing of the new bills when it is not their job in the first place.

The two new bills mentioned above means the police can simply ask you to take your leave from where you are. They can also simply confiscate your recording devices. All these at their sole discretion. It is so highly subjected to abuse because it can be any vicinity and any 'security' operations.

Let me give you a scenario. Under the law, any public protest of at least five people without a police permit is deemed illegal but we all know that don't matter. The police can still lock you up even if you are alone. They have other laws to do that. Previously, video recordings by those arrested provided an alternative view of what actually happened, countering those by the police. With the new bills, they can prevent the recording of an incident and no one will know what actually happened.

The new bills are similar to many laws in Singapore that has got to do with civil rights. Many were so vague like the Miscellaneous Offences Act which can be used if nothings else can to charge you.

Make full use of that voting slip people before that is taken away from you too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lovehunters - Sambutlah Kasihku

Another beautiful song. Lovehunters is another local band fronted by Yazid, another great local vocalist, that did not get its due recognition.



Tak pernah ku menduga
Gelora jiwa sesal di dada
Aku jatuh dan aku merindu tanpa kepastian
Bagaimanakah nantinya
Aku dapat menyakinkan
Rasa cinta di hatiku
Hanyalah untukmu kekasihku

Mendung dalam sinar matamu
Kenangan duka masa lalu
Kepasrahan

Tak ku hiraukan panas mentari lagi
Demi cinta kurela menanti
Takkan goyah walau badai kan melanda
Seribu tahun kutetap setia

Lupakanlah dukamu yang silam
Hulur tanganmu sambut kasihku
Mari bersama kita melangkah
Membina cinta abadi

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Unwanted - Penyesalan

A beautiful classic track featuring Hanafie Warren, one of the most outstanding local vocalist.



Pertemuan yang pertama kali
Terasa mesra menyusuk di jiwa
Itulah kali yang pertama terjadi
Dalam hidup ku

Sekian lama kita bercinta
Malangnya cinta putus tiba-tiba
Di hati pula jadi tanda tanya
Oh mengapa

Kini ternyata engkau pura-pura saja
Impian ku selama ini kosong belaka
Ku ternoda dengan mulut manis yang berbisa
Menghampakan kasih yang setia

Biarkan ini ku tanggung sendiri
Mengubati hati yang luka ini
Cinta mu itu hanya permainan saja
Membakar di jiwa

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Break ups

Breaking up is tough. Whoever says otherwise simply means they either have not been through it before or they do not have a relationship to begin with.

A friend of mine is currently going through it. I can empathise with him because I've walked that road before and looking at how his is similar to mine, it brings back memories.

My last break up is well etched in my mind because it was hell for me. It being sudden made me took years to get over and start anew.

The first few months was like being in a prison. I hate being in that state of mind of constantly having thoughts that can never end, yet I can't stop myself.

At first it was all about trying to rationalise what had happen. Naturally, being the party at the receiving end I end up blaming myself, regardless if it is my fault or not. Then it was about having to decide whether to continue trying to win her back or face the fact that it is all over.

Moving on is next and trying to forget someone I've been with for years seems futile as I was reminded of her at anything, anywhere and anytime. That was when I decided to get rid of anything related to her. Either I returned them or threw it all away. It was a hard decision, and something I toyed around with 'what ifs' . But I have no regret as I might still be stuck there and not move on.

The hardest part was nursing my wounds. The feeling of emptiness haunted me for a very long time. That turned to bitterness and I was filled with anger towards her for many years. Because of that, I closed my heart to any woman who came close.

When I finally let it go, I am practically lost. I stayed away from friends as they are mostly hitched and them being happy simply invoked resentment towards them. I had no girlfriends too as I stayed away from woman to prevent myself from getting hurt, closing my circle of potentials to practically zero. Confidence then drop to the lowest level along with self esteem and then depression sets in as I see no future for myself.

Sleep is the only exception from not wanting to do anything else. It's a vicious cycle that I never ever want to be in again or wish for anyone to.

I took sometime before I realise that I'm in a terrible place. So I got up and never look back.

I'm glad I have someone now. Not that being single sucks because being single is perfectly ok. It is being single and feeling crappy about yourself that sucks.

So if you're single, be happy. Don't resent anyone, be it your ex or someone who rejected your advancement because it will only make yourself bitter. You can't be happy if you're bitter can you? Being unhappy can lead to many things and it all ends in you suffering.

If you're attached, work on your relationship. I read this somewhere and I truly believe that it's true that there is no such thing as 'the one'. Your partner will be 'the one' when you work with him/her on the relationship.

I wish my friend the best and hopefully be there in his times of need.

If not for my previous break up, I would not have found my current love so to anyone out there who just broke up, your new life is just beginning.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Akidah vs Amalan

I regularly read Raja Petra Kamarudin's blog. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny his passion for what he believes in - freedom of speech and expression.

His latest blog touches on Akidah (faith) and I quote

I know, now many so-called Islamists will argue that Akidah is about praying, fasting, paying your tithes, going to Mekah and all that. To these people I say: bullshit. That is not Akidah. That is amalan (practice). And those are mere rituals. Even horses, penguins, seals, elephants, tigers, dogs, and whatnot can be taught to do tricks. This does not mean they all know why they are doing these tricks. They only know that if they do them then they get rewarded with food. So they do them….but for food.

Those rituals that many Muslims perform are also for rewards -- mostly the reward of Heaven and to avoid punishment, meaning Hell. Assuming you get nothing and suffer nothing if you either do or do not do them, then 90% or more of Muslims would dump all the rituals. That is how ‘sincere’ these fakes are. They do not perform these rituals for God. They perform them for their own sakes, for the ‘rewards’ and to avoid punishment.

I know to some this sound shocking although coming from RPK, it's perfectly normal. Frankly, I too subscribe to the same thinking, especially the 2nd paragraph.

Ask any practicing Muslims as to why they do certain Ibadah (act of worship) and most of them would mention the Pahala (rewards) that comes with it or the Balasan (retribution) for not doing it, with no mention of God.

Not too far fetch to say if there is no reward or retribution system, many might not even bother. It is no different from people not littering because they believe littering is bad but rather because they are afraid of being fined.

Having said all that, as long as everyone is happy with what they are doing, then there's no harm. The real problem is when they start imposing on others.

Do what pleases you but not at the expense of others - Azhar Khamis

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maiden

We finally set the ball rolling for our maiden backpacking trip to Perth yesterday instead of the initial plan to go Sarawak in a group.

One thing I learned so far from a couple of small trips I organised is that there has to be a dateline. By the time that is up, the only way is to proceed with whatever the situation is then because if not, nothing will happen.

Consensus is not a privilege because any intentional delay simply means paying more for transportation as fares go up as the date gets nearer. So once I got signals that the original plan is set to go crash and burn, I decided to stop wasting valuable time and focus on just us hence the switch of plans.

We sat in Axela near a McDonalds outlet to tap on wireless@sg and booked the tickets. The flight schedule is at odd timings that it scares me a little as to what screw-ups will be coming our way then.

But they say that's the fun of backpacking - the unknown, and we might be putting ourselves deeper into unchartered waters by trying to get a freeloaders stay there. Although Perth is practically safe, doing anything for the first time will always be a little scary.

The trip will be on a very strict budget although to me food is something that I can exclude from that as compared to other aspects. Going hungry is never fun.

Lots of things are maiden on this trip apart from it being our first attempt at backpacking. A first together on a trip (not a getaway). A first to Perth and the first to Australia for her. It might snow there too so it would be another first for her.

Of the things in our list of 'firsts', this being the first time we really sat down planned something tops it all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Changes to OPC rules

LTA is considering to reduce if not totally remove restriction for off-peak cars on Saturdays. They are also considering doing away with paper coupons and implement an electronic payments system instead.

Both the above are very much welcomed.

OPC owners have been requesting for the restrictions to be lifted since LTA did the same for the VEP on Saturdays for foreign registered cars. Surely one of the main reasons for implementing such change in 2005 was due to the roads on Saturdays able to handle increased traffic as a result of the government pushing for 5 days work week. The reason why such restrictions cannot be lifted for OPC because it will worsen the congestion on the roads is no longer valid.

With such changes, is it expected that OPC will gain more popularity and possibly add to the already bad traffic. How true is that?

Drivers know that roads here are jammed up in the morning around 7am to 9:30am and in the evening around 7pm to 8:30pm. The morning jams are mostly attributed to parents sending their kids to school before the themselves head to work. This is fact because during school holidays, the roads are clear. Probably parents either drive to work later or they decided to take public transport. The evening jams, in the reverse order, are caused by drivers returning home from work.

Therefore even with an increase in OPCs in the future, it should not have an adverse effect on the morning traffic as OPCs cannot be driven after 7am, before the real jam starts.

As for the evening jams, OPC cars made up for 7.7% of the 500,000 cars here. That is about 40,000. Even if all of them ply the roads at the same time, it is still 7.7% compared to the other 93.7% non-OPCs out there. In fact, most OPCs are parked at home and only driven on weekends. Therefore even if the number increases but with most parked at home on weekdays, nothing much will change.

Same goes for Saturdays as the traffic conditions on Saturdays are no where as bad as on weekdays. With the restrictions on Saturday lifted, situation should be pretty much the same.

Having more OPCs simply means less non-OPCs. If the COE is properly implemented, it makes no difference what type of cars are there on the roads.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tribute to Axela

Last November marks our 3rd anniversary together. How time flies.

Although her fuel consumption is higher compared some of her peers, it was not as bad as most thought it is. With the car weighing around 1.2 tonnes, heavier than her Korean or Japanese peers, 11.3km/l is considered more than acceptable especially when it is compensated that with superb handling during high speeds and at bends. 180km/h and the three passengers did not even realise it. That's how stable she is.

Underpowered she may be from the get go but she gets me places and gives me the needed power when required. No complaints from me on this aspect.

She posed no major problems all these while except for warped front brake discs which resulted in the car jerking when braking during high speed. I would not have known if I had not been to Sepang. That was thankfully settled by the warranty program so it cost me nothing.

I had to replace the front windscreen, cracked twice in the first year, caused by flying objects while on the road. I had to fork out approximately 15% of the total cost each time while the rest of it, was covered by the insurance. That however was beyond Axela's control.

Wear and tear wise, her Bridgestone tyres lasted 3 years, clocking 70,000 km. That is considered way above expectation. They also wore out evenly which means the alignment is still ok. I had them replaced with the exact same model, the most I spend on her, because not only it lasts, it performed really well, wet or dry, proven with many on the road incidents.

Just changed her battery today, a similar case of performing beyond expectation. It gave signs a few months back but only recently she started to give me warnings. When to JB with makcik today and had it replaced with a similar flooded cell, 65% cheaper compared to local prices. Decided against a dry cell not only because it is cheaper but also because unlike dry cell batteries that will stop working without warning, flooded cell will give you signs of its condition when you crank the engine up.

The rear brake pads was replaced after around 2 1/2 years. Good thing too since after that the brake dust on the wheels reduced dramatically. Made me wonder why Mazda did not supply that brake pads instead in the first time round.

Her front headlight bulbs blew recently, one after the other, a really minor cost.

Her body also proved its worth for being heavy. Once a rider hit her left side near the tail light. It was quite a hard knock that the car jolted a little from a stationary position. I stopped the rider, a probationer with a pillion, to the side and both of them had no blood on their face. As it was dark and I can't see anything broken, I let them off. It was only when I reached home under the bright carpark lights that I noticed a line of dent. Considering the impact, damage is minor.

Then there was the Gunung Pulai incident where an Ah Pek's bike fell on the driver's door. Again, considering the impact, the dent left by it is considered a blessing.

Her bodykit took the most beatings and amazingly still not broken albeit scratches here and there.

Once I hit the front skirting against a divider, thinking it broke judging by the sound of it but it only got misaligned and I just need to nudge it back to its original place.

I also hit a divider on the sides, jolting the car, and still nothing is broken.

Then there was the time when the right side of the rear bumper came off after a friend who is not familiar with how deceivingly low Axela is tried to park her. Again, I just need to push everything back in place and it looks like nothing happened. The bodykits are worth every penny spent.

With all the above and trips to Terengganu, twice up Genting and once to Sepang covered, she has been really good to me. Hopefully it will be Penang or maybe even Thailand the next time round.

Thanks Axela.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Opposing for the sake of opposing

Recently MP Low Thia Kiang questioned the effectiveness of the Job Credit scheme.

As expected, he was countered with verbal ammunitions from the ruling party MPs, sparking exchanges from both sides of the online camp.

Without fail, those who supported the government or those who hates the opposition asked the same thing - why Mr Low offered no alternative solutions? This is the constant every time and the part I seriously do not understand.

Why must the oppositions provide alternative solutions if they oppose a certain scheme?

First of all, oppositions did offer alternative solutions before which were never taken up because they were 'not viable' according to the government.

Even if the solutions are good, would the ruling party take it up? Of course the official answer is yes. However that will never happen because it would mean that the whole lot of policy makers in the government is just a waste of money as they cannot come out with a better solution in the first place and had to wait for the opposition to tell them that.

Giving thumbs up to oppositions' idea as a no-no. So what's the point?

Secondly, why is it a must? If for example you chance upon someone who wants to commit suicide, would you go ahead and let them do it because you cannot offer them a better alternative to solving their problems?

The problem with the current government is that the ideas are never discussed in parliament. Everything is done back doors and only announced when it is decided upon. Even if a better solution if offered by the oppositions, taking them up would amount to embarrassment to the ruling party. Hence they have to stand their ground and activate their propaganda machines to make the idea look as the best there is.

Great ideas are never realised in an instance. It emerges through scores of criticisms - Azhar Khamis

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greed

http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_329257.html

First of all, I am puzzled that this is considered breaking news?! No wonder ST got ranked 147th. Haiz...

Anyway, in this case, do you really believe this Ang knows nothing about the intention to resell the property? If he really know nothing, selling to the boss's wife is nothing but suspect. He really got no other client?

I wish the couple the best in their lawsuit.

Freedom of Information Act

Congratulations to President Obama for being the 44th president of the United States of America, and to the people for the choosing the path of change.

Although it remains to be seen as to how effective is his presidency, his vision and not false promises are the one that gives us hope that things can get better if we believe it will and work for it.

On his first day in office, he announced he would freeze the pay of about 100 senior staffers who now earn more than $100,000, and he pledged to comply with not only the letter but the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows access to public records and one of the most powerful instruments to hold government accountable.

Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of his presidency. "However long we are keepers of the public trust, we should never forget we are public servants," Obama said,

He cautioned staffs that they should not use their positions to seek favor for themselves, friends or corporate interests.

His orders will prevent staffers who were lobbyists from working on matters or with agencies related to that lobbying, and he said that any staffer who leaves would not be allowed to lobby the Obama administration.

I can only wish this is the case with here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lesser mortals


“Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful,”
- MP Charles Chong

I, a lesser mortal, envy the residents of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC for having a god-like being for their MP.

Like someone said, we should start burning joss sticks thanking him for reminding us that only when we reach god-like status can we then understand the writings of god-like beings. They're not boasting. They're just reminding us the difference between us and them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Naiks of Bukit Timah

I went on my weekly hike up Bukit Timah last Sunday, my third in a row, as part of my new year resolution not to skip anymore sessions.

Makcik's Sunday mornings are now occupied with classes so that means I'll be doing it alone from now on, unless of course David run out of excuses.

Since I will not be conversing with anyone during the hike, I brought my bluetooth headset along so that the I can listen to MP3s on my phone. It's also a great way to get myself pumped up ala Rocky movies.

It just so happened that I was listening to Knights of Cydonia by Muse in the car and I had to stop halfway because I did not want bottles to be thrown at me for sitting the in the car parked in a lot where it's scarcity is like finding a rich model for a wife.

So I turned on the same song as I began the hike. It did wonders as I did not feel that tired when I reached the peak. The beat of the songs was kind of similar to my footsteps so it kind of helped me maintain the rhythm. Plus of course the song itself is awesome with motivating lyrics such as "I must fight to survive"

Therefore this will be the official Naiks of Bukit Timah song for me until I found a new one.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who are we actually bailing out?

First it was the financial institution. Then it was the automotive industry. Now its the porn industry. Yes, you read it right. Even they need help.

Bail outs can be a good thing. Many jobs can be saved. But bail outs can also be a bad thing because public funds are used so that the executives can continue to make poor judgments resulting in others lower down the corporate ladder suffer for it.

General Motors, one if not the largest in the industry should have been made to fold then allow the system to correct itself because bailing them out will not guarantee that the executives will be more responsible this time round.

True, letting the company crash will cause a lot people to lose their job but how different is that from giving the money directly to those people to tie them up till the economy recovers? In fact, it would cost much lesser since non of the funds are use to pay the executives their top dollar.

The funds can also instead be used to set up a new a company dealing with something profitable and have those out of jobs as employees.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Talk about percentage

Government announced enhancements to further help local SMEs with their cash flow and cost of credit in the current economic slowdown.

While I support our local SMEs, it would be interesting to know how many percent of their workforce comprises of locals?

No shame

Chee Lee Hong posed this question recently:

The problem with the Internet is reliability: To what extent can you trust what you read online? Whether due to ignorance, mischief or sheer absence of quality control, much of what is written online has to be taken with a pinch of salt.


I read the above in amusement because this came from someone who admitted that she never read blogs but labeled blogs as thrash. How would you trust someone who don't listen to both sides of the story to preside over a disagreement?

Whatever it is, I'll answer her accusation. I mean question.

She's right. The Internet is not reliable only if you do not know where to look.
But that is another point totally.

With all the unreliability, the choice is left to the readers to judge for themselves instead of having opinions shoved down our throat because compared to the Straits Times, the Internet gives each individual the chance to voice out his/her opinions. Straits Times reject huge amount of letters to its Forum column daily citing space constraints while unworthy letters were published. Leaving the sieving power to someone in the editing department simply means we put our sole trust in him/her.

So because of that, what if she is asked this instead:

The problem with the Straits Times is reliability: To what extent can you trust what you read on print? Whether due to ignorance, mischief or sheer absence of journalistic quality and integrity, much of what is written on it has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

There. That settles the case.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fell through the safety net

The case of Sebestian Yeo Wei Xiong, an autistic boy who fell to his death while being 'trailed', should be a lesson to be learned by the men in uniform that they should not get a monkey to do a man's job. If they do not have the special skills to handle such cases, get social services, if we have one in the first place.

And why was the boy out of school? From the way the neighbours described him, he seems to be a smart boy, else how would he had managed to survive and take care of his mentally unwell mother? While we give money to those who can more than afford to further their studies themselves in the name of scholarship, this poor boy was left out by the system.

And this happened in the supposedly best taken care of GRC. Dear PM, as an MP of the ward, if you come to know about this and found out that not much was done to help this boy when he was alive, please fire the RC committee members for not doing their job.

It's not something you can just snap out of

It can happen to anybody and it can happen at anytime. You might be healthy now but there can be no guarantee that you will remain as one in the future. What's important is the need to believe that it exists because only then you can begin to understand what is needed to overcome it.

If only Andrea Yates got the right support she needed instead of an insane preacher, her 5 lovely kids might still be alive now.