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“What did they live on?” said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

“They lived on treacle,” said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

“They couldn’t have done that, you know,” Alice gently remarked. “They’d have been ill.”

“So they were,” said the Dormouse; “very ill.”

~Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Chapter 7 - Lewis Carroll






slap slap slap slap slap
Reblogged from: http://i-speak.blogdrive.com/archive/148.html
Written by a girl in 2006 when she was 17. When I was 17, I didn't think about such things. Even now, I don't think I can express myself as well as she did then, with such clarity of thought and depth. *Claps*

We have been hardwired since young to be grateful in everything to the People's Action Party. We have been conditioned to accept the abrogation of our democratic freedoms as a necessary inconvenience for the sake of prosperity. We have been primed to forgive any injustice committed by the ruling elite in the name of continued progress under the guidance of benevolent paternalism -- the government knows best.

I remember the issue being discussed countless times in class. Whether in an honestly indignant manner, or in the form of a light-hearted jest, or even a sardonic diatribe, my peers and I have raised our protests against the form of rule present in Singapore to our elders. Time and time again, I have heard the same answer: that is the sacrifice. Freedom is less important than stability. Stability has given us prosperity.

Now, in the heat of the elections, the same thing is once more on everyone's lips. Freedom is less important than stability. Stability has given us prosperity. We owe everything to the PAP. Without them, we wouldn't be here today. After all, there was a time when people said that Singapore won't make it -- but we did!

Let's do ourselves the favour of honesty today, and ask if what the PAP accomplished for Singapore was really such a miracle. Let's ask ourselves if it's been worth the sacrifice.

Singapore has long been known as one of the four East Asian tigers, which also include Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. These countries were part of the Newly Industrialised Economies, which emerged in the 1960's, mostly a product of decolonization, and faced the challenge of industrialisation and development in an increasingly globalised world where other countries had already had a headstart.

Nevertheless, the four tigers followed a generic formula to success; rapid industrialisation and an export-oriented economy, with the aid available from various external agents including the World Bank, the IMF, and of course the then-hegemonic United States, who had virtually reconstructed the post-war economies worldwide in a colossal, unilateral effort. Their currencies were devalued to make their goods cheaper, and foreign advisers were brought into the countries to offer their expert opinions on the situation (the famous Dr. Albert Winsemius, in Singapore's case). The governments focussed their efforts onto education, as well as expansionary fiscal policies to create jobs and stimulate their infant economies.

Singapore had natural economic advantages to help her on her way to achieve the stunning growth she has displayed. Chief among them, perhaps, was her strategic location along major trading routes leading to the Far East, hence Singapore's invaluable contribution to British profiteering in Southeast Asia during the age of colonialism. Bustling port activity had already given her a headstart in development in comparison to Malaysia. In fact, the different nature of Singapore's far more developed, industrialised and high-end economy in the years of de-colonization as opposed to Malaysia's less developed, more agrarian economy was a very big worry on the part of the British, and one of the foremost reasons raised why Singapore should not merge with Malaysia. Singapore had already displayed not only a potential for, but also a track record of prosperity and development before the PAP was ever in the picture.

It is therefore perfectly understandable why, given these natural advantages as well as the favourable climate of the international economy at that time (it was during the period which has been termed the 'Golden Age of Capitalism', lasting from 1947 to 1974, and flanked by the Marshall Plan and the OPEC oil crisis), the East Asian tigers flourished and prospered. So what, if anything set Singapore apart? What was unique about our development strategy?

The answer comes, predictably, in the form of strict governance -- not in the mere presence of strictness, as some degree of authoritarianism was exercised in the early stages of Taiwan's and South Korea's development as well. But Singapore is unique in the extent of its authoritarianism, and the length of time during which this authoritarian rule has been sustained. Labour unions were de-politicised, collective bargaining power restricted, and trade union interests were subordinated to those of the State. [Note: please don't believe a word of what Lee Hsien Loong says when he tries to make it sound like it's better for workers this way because Union leaders have a place in Cabinet. While I applaud his rhetorical twist and his laudable optimism in seeing the glass as half full, let's not kid ourselves -- they are Ministers in charge of the Unions, not Union leaders in charge of the country.] In addition to the labour restrictions, we also saw high levels of government involvement and ownership in production, financing and marketing through the existence of statutory boards. Beyond economics, we also saw a strong government presence in the media, and tight restrictions placed on the freedom of speech, assembly, protest., and so on.

In South Korea, we also did see suppression of labour movements, but this at least came with a guarantee of a minimum wage; the Singaporean government gave us no such guarantee. Furthermore, the proliferation of government/ex-government ministers in so many sectors -- the media, the union congress, etc., meant a depth of intervention unparalleled in the East Asian tigers. Singapore too has been the only country out of the original four to still hang on to its authoritarianism. South Korea has long abandoned the suppression of the labour movement, since 1987 in fact.

What were the results of our authoritarian regime? Lower wages, lots of rich government-linked companies who had access to our national reserves, and people who couldn't complain. Good things in and of themselves, perhaps, but hardly instrumental in Singapore's success. No, that was predicated on the other constants which had held true in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan who had not embarked on similarly interventionist policies, with the exception perhaps of South Korea, where the chaebols crowded out many competing firms in production, contributing towards South Korea's collapse in the Asian Crisis of 1997-1998. Hong Kong adopted positive non-interference, becoming the most extreme example of a free-market economy in the world, while Taiwan took the route of passive interference, with gradually declining government intervention as the years went on. That's with regards to economics -- with regards to things like press freedom, one only has to look to the Reporters Without Borders' index of press freedom today. South Korea is 48th, Taiwan is 60th, Hong Kong is 34th, Singapore is 147th. Please, don't tell me Singapore's economy will die if we have a free press.

All these countries achieved sterling growth, but the important thing to note is that an all-knowing, clairvoyant, authoritarian government that repressed freedoms and compromised on democracy was not necessary to achieving this growth. The 'constants' earlier mentioned which determined the East Asian tigers' success were factors like the access to foreign aid, available 1st world markets, the Confucian work ethic, et alii. The biggest justifications for our enforced stability, which were capital inflow and the benefits of foreign direct investment, were also constants available to these countries, not exclusive to Singapore in any way. Our contemporaries today enjoy success, progress, and stability with a free media, with labour unions, with less government intervention in the economy.

What are the questions this leads us to ask? Can we bear to admit to ourselves that our carefully-constructed world of police permits and suppressed labour unions and government involvement in large corporations did not need to be constructed for us to be enjoying the benefits of prosperity and consumerism today? If we can admit this, then what is our debt to the PAP? One of gratitude, certainly for their astute leadership. But not one of mindless bondage, not one of servitude, and not one of complete absolution and endorsement of the tactics by which they have achieved success. No longer should we say, "of course things should be this way, otherwise Singapore wouldn't be Singapore". If so, then South Korea wouldn't be South Korea, Taiwan wouldn't be Taiwan, Hong Kong wouldn't be Hong Kong, and Japan wouldn't be Japan. All these economies are either in close competition with us, our ahead of us today.

So the next time the PAP cadres stand up and say, our Ministers must be in our trade union in order for there to be progress and stability, the next time they say we must not have free speech or 'too much democracy' in order for there to be progress and stability, the next time they say the PAP and only the PAP can give us progress and stability, let us remember two things. Let us remember firstly that our economic success was due to a range of other, more instrumental factors which had to do with luck, coincidental timing and natural advantage, rather than suppression. Then let us remember also, that progress and stability, movies, toys, games, fabrics, gadgets, dollars and cents, are not the sum and whole of human welfare, which must include always the dignity of choosing the proxies by which we govern our own lives as a mature and civic society free of fear, oppression and systematic propaganda. Let us no longer accept excuses.

Prague Day 1

Hi EVERYONE! I'm back from Prague!

Prague is SUPER DUPER HOT and CROWDED and when I was there! So much for being the most romantic city... So damn crowded, how to be romantic lor!

Reached Prague airport at around 6pm Czech time. We went straight to the student agency counter to purchase the bus tickets to Vienna and tickets to the city centre from the airport. To our dismay, the tickets from the airport to city centre were SOLD OUT! Since we needed to reached the apartment we have rented by 7:40, we decided to take their public transport and OH MY GOD, it was @!%!#%#*%&#$%Y@!%(@#$%@!*$!(&$@ difficult and we were running late! It costs 26 Crowns which is about $2 Sing dollars. You are suppose to validate the tickets when on board the train/bus and the ticket is valid for 75 mins allowing you to do any amount of transfers between, bus, subways and trams within these 75 mins.

Still happy and smiling on the bus to the city.

After 20 mins or so, the bus reached the terminal and we were supposed to change to tram number 22. We have no idea which is the correct way to take the tram, where is the tram station. To make matter worse, there were totally NO ENGLISH SIGN and the people DONT speak English. If the signs were in German or French or some more common European languages, we would be able to make out the content of the signs. But now, there were in Czech which looks something like this "Východ", like WTF man!

Anyway, we still managed to reached the apartment we have booked which is located in HUSINECKA (Which is pronounced as Hu-Sis-Ni-Ka) with much hassle. We asked for some recommendations from the "landlord" and she recommended a restaurant called Skelp(I thought I heard SLAP).

Waiting to order food and SUPER hungry from all the travelling

Food took around 30 mins to come and to be honest, it wasn't great.

It was some Veal meat in some very heavy sauce. The white bread taste something like Man Tou

Duck Liver. Trust me, the Chinese ARE SO MUCH BEtTER at cooking duck liver

Platter of cheese




I'm in Prague!!!! :)

Its such a touristy place filled with tourist! Although there are SUPER alot of tourist in the old town square. Food is slightly better than UK but not too much better also. Prague is colder than in Manchester and buildings are quite European, kind of the same as UK. I'm playing tower defence now and am hiring a ghost writer to write this entry for me.

Prague is nice overall and I'm going to Vienna tml .Hope its nice :). Will update the photos when I get back to Manchester


London: A post with Sincerity

Last Christmas (2010), we went to London to celebrate Christmas and for the Boxing Day sales.

We took the train, and then the tube, to reach our 1 star hotel, Belgravia Rooms. It was quite good, except for the airplane toilet sized toilet.

Bad picture, but best duck since Yi Pin Yuan in Beijing.

Tauhu Bakar

VELLY DELICIOUS seafood mee goreng

We went to the London Eye and also saw the Big Ben

1 day before the Boxing Day Sales, we did our homework and planned where we would go. It was almost like a case competiton:

In the end, I went to queue at Gucci from about 5AM with Wan Teng and Eileen. Both bagged 3 items each and I didn't get any :( But it was an experience, first queuing for 6 hours in the cold (-7 degrees) and then jostling with the other customers for the limited range of products. If you ever go to London for Boxing Day, you can try it too ;P

Eileen and I got ourselves Kindles for Christmas.

It is an extremely handy device where you can load almost any book into it (provided you can find it online). At 109 pounds, it's a good buy, and we actually bought it to read our academic papers, required readings for exams :( Turns out that PDF support isn't that great but still, a good buy overall :D


WHEEEEEEE! I'm in manchester now. So cold :(. I want to eat peking duck

to build a democratic society

Today I received $200 in GST credits. I guess it means that elections are coming. Cool, but actually I'm not really sure which GRC I'm under. I live in Hougang though. But not under opposition ward I think. Weird. Anyway, I think I'm under Aljunied GRC.

When I was young I followed my mother to the voting booth, it seemed like such a secretive and adult-like thing to do, mark a cross beside the bee (logo of some opposition party?) or beside the lightning bolt and drop the slip of paper into a box.

Now I'm going to be able to do the same.

So are you, friends, you are going to do the same too.

Who are you going to vote for, if your place doesn't go through a walkover, that is? I honestly hope it isn't going to be the PAP.

If it is, please take some minutes to read the following pages, I have copied some excerpts from each page:

Why was our late president Mr Ong Teng Cheong not given a state funeral like Dr Goh Keng Swee?
Ong Teng Cheong was elected to the presidency in 1993. One of his first moves was to ask the civil service for a list of assets that the government had started off with. Six years later, one of his complaints at the end of his term of office in 1999, was that he never quite got a full accounting. Another of his complaints was that he was never given enough staff to check the numbers given to him.

(Asiaweek Interview with Mr Ong) Why did they not want to tell you?
I do not know. Don't ask me, because I don't have the answer. I've been asking them. In fact, in 1996, exactly halfway through my term, I wrote prime minister Goh a letter. At that time, everybody was expecting a general election in December or January. After the election, a new government would be sworn in. When that happens, all the reserves, whether past or current, become past reserves and are locked up on the changeover date. As president, I have to safeguard them and they can only be drawn upon with my permission. So I said to Mr Goh It's already halfway through my term, but until today I still don't know all these figures about the reserves.

And this, Administrative Expenses at Temasek Holdings amounted to 8 billion in the FY 2009
The overhead and fixed costs at Temasek are outrageous. In its 2009 financial statements and balance sheets, Temasek had $140.953 billion in assets (table 1). This was down from $169.844 billion in 2008. However, total expenses were $31.170 billion dollars or a whopping 22.11% of assets (percentage of assets is usually how funds are judged). Why was it only $25.7 billion in 2008, a year in which Temasek’s net profit was almost 3 times that of 2009!! So, how is it that in a year when net profit was 3 times less than in 2008, it incurred 21.28% in higher expenses!!

The expenses for 2009 (table 2) are broken down as follows:

Selling and Distribution $5.042 billion or 3.57% of assets
Administrative $8.068 billion or 5.72% of assets
Finance charges $2.727 billion or 1.93% of assets
Other operating expenses $15.333 billion or 10.88% of assets

The thing that really jumped out to me was the administrative expenses. This is expenses for salaries, rents, etc. How can a staff of only 350 incur $8 billion in administrative expenses! Do they have their own private jets, gold water faucets, etc?

So now we have Temasek spending 8.068 BILLION, that is $8,068,000,000.00 on administrative expenses, but unwilling to give $30 per month more to citizens on public assistance schemes?

(excerpt from 2007 budget talks)
Dr Lily Neo: Sir, I want to check with the Minister again on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of "subsistence living"? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C, and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

No, actually we don't want meals anywhere, we're perfectly happy with Temasek spending the money on administrative expenses.

And to cover losses as well, of course. Report from the Wall Street Journal

Last September, Temasek announced it had a lousy year. In the year ended March 31, 2009, the value of its investment portfolio fell 30%, and its profit fell 67%. Its wealth added was a negative 68.1 billion Singapore dollars, or about $48.5 billion, meaning everybody's WA bonus bank took a big hit.

They lose 68billion sing dollars. If the amount is given to everyone in Singapore equally as GST credits that would be around 11.7 thousand per person. (68,000,000,000 / 5,800,000 = 11,724). Of course if you exclude foreigners who recently became citizens that number will go up substantially.

Please remember that this money is the MOF's money, meaning it includes annual tax surpluses and CPF money. It is all the citizens' money. $68,000,000,000 - lost.

Recap - Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

And if you're still up to it, read this on whose country is it anyway? And on what the state media censors
The Government brings in foreigners by the millions at the expense of Singaporeans, causing the locals economic uncertainty and hardship.

The National Wages Council, which help to determine the level of wages of Singaporeans, continue to have foreigners such as Americans, German, and Japanese sitting in it. For the record, real income of Singaporeans have stagnated in the recent past and the cost of living has far outstripped wages for most Singaporeans.

But perhaps the clearest indication that the PAP Government works against the interest of Singapore and her workers came from the late Ong Teng Cheong. In January 1986 Mr Ong, then deputy prime minister and NTUC secretary-general, had sanctioned a strike by the shipping industry which he did not inform the cabinet.

This was Mr Ong's account: "The minister for trade and industry was very angry, his officers were very upset. They had calls from America asking what happened to Singapore - we are non-strike."

Why do American bosses need to call the PAP Government about a strike carried out by Singaporean workers? Why does it have to account to American businesses for what it does in Singapore? Who does the Government listen to, American MNCs or Singaporean workers?

The important question that must be asked is what are Singapore's interests? They must not be conflated with the PAP's interests?

Is the PAP Government's policy to invest and subsequently lose more than $100 billion in investments in Western banks while poor Singaporeans go hungry and homeless working in the interest of Singapore?

And this, What does the incumbent use the ISA (Internal Security Act) for?
Teo and 15 others were brusquely arrested on the night of 21/22 May 1987 under the Internal Security Act. After succumbing to lengthy interrogations in cold rooms and agreeing to participate in a show confession on television, she was released in September. However, on 18 April 1988, she and some others issued a joint statement categorically denying the government’s accusations that they had been “Marxist conspirators”, and for their trouble were promptly rearrested the following day. She would be held without trial for more than two years to June 1990.

Do you really still want to be under a government like this? Anyway, going to end off this long post with something funny I found from another blog:

i don't want to Change, let's vote PAP in
(credits to http://utopia8787.blogspot.com/)

vote PAP in so we can address each others as "comrades" like Young PAP
vote PAP in to raise GST to help the poor(credits to comrade Lee Hsien Loong)
vote PAP in to bring in more foreigners
vote PAP in to bring our population to 6.5million
vote PAP in to give our highly-talented Ministers a Million Dollar Pay Raise
vote PAP in to withdraw your CPF at 71 years old
vote PAP in to have 40 years of HDB mortgage loan
vote PAP in to have more massage parlours
vote PAP in to work CHEAPER BETTER FASTER(credits to comrade Lim Swee Say)
vote PAP in to have Affordable $650 000 4-room flat(credits to comrade Mah Bow Tan)
vote PAP in to help Foreigners integrate into Singapore
vote PAP in because Foreigners are highly educated, financially powerful, resourceful and have extensive networks(comrade Grace Fu)
vote PAP in to have death penalty
vote PAP in to lose your CPF money to inflation
vote PAP in to have no Opposition in Parliament
vote PAP in to read more good news every day in Straits Times
vote PAP in so Ministers can take a productive nap during Wong Kan Seng's boring speech(credits to comrade Teo Chee Hean)**
vote PAP in because they are deaf to all criticisms(credits to comrade Lim Swee Say)
vote PAP in because we are not a country(credits to comrade K Shanmugam)
vote PAP in because foreigners are more hard striving(credits to comrade Lee Kuan Yew)
vote PAP in because we are lesser mortals(credits to comrade Charles Chong)
vote PAP in so your children will want to leave Singapore
vote PAP in to put your parents in Johore
vote PAP in because the Beach can take in more homeless people
vote PAP in so our elderly, poor and handicapped can pick aluminium cans, sell tissue and clear trays in food courts and fastfood restaurants for active aging
vote PAP in so we can work forever and not retire
vote PAP in so terrorist can limp his way out of detention
vote PAP in so Singaporean guys can serve NS to protect Foreigners and the PAP
vote PAP in to have more NS reservist training and 2 years of NS
vote PAP in to support Foreign Talent, because local singers, actors, musicians and artists are not talented enough
vote PAP in because every academic result matters(yes PSLE too)
vote PAP in because we fear them


By now I hope you would give the opposition a chance. Who knows, they might be not be 'better' than your MP but surely they would be more helpful than these MPs here.

Now, Phoenix as the icon seems inappropriate as he only appears in a cameo with Pearl and Maya as part of a backdrop. Not even as much interaction as Lotta Hart! -_-


The recurring characters were good, young Franziska was cute with her short riding crop, lol.

And Lang's appearance usurped Phoenix in the Phoenix/Edgeworth equation.

Hahaha I am having so much fun XD

Ok now you go play too! :D

I'm so petty

I'm a xiao qi gui!



I hate studying :(

Took a break, read some One Piece and Naruto.

OP is so action packed in the recent chapters that I don't really know what's going on.. o.O Wish the crew would reassemble itself soon. And I think Ace will be saved! :)

Naruto (the series, not the character) is getting better. Sakura is all grown up now. Makes the series really much more enjoyable to read. No more whiny female damsels in distress! But Kakashi as Hokage seems kinda weird. And of courseee, Gaanaru is love :))

Wish Naruto would snap out of it already. C'mon -.-


And now it's back to my own darkness, International business -________-
Today is Hari Raya Haji, a public holiday in Singapore.

I went to hougang mall with my mum and siblings for some stuff. My sis then went off to settle some of her own things, and it started raining heavily we wanted to head home. 3 of us left then had 1 umbrella between us. As I was previously contemplating if I should go get my hair cut, and my mum told me to go ahead, so that I can wait for the rain to stop in the meantime. She gave me $10 (didn't bring my wallet) to get my hair cut at Snip Avenue ($3.80) and I went ahead.

When I reached there, the receptionist told me there were 10+ people waiting in front of me and only 1 hairstylist was cutting hair, the rest doing treatments/rebonding/perming and the like. I said ok, and proceeded to leave, as the rain had began to let up.

On the way back I bought something for $2.50. And as luck (or the lack thereof) would have it, it started pouring. I walked around the area and could not find somewhere that would cut my hair for $7.50 (the next cheapest was $8) So I returned to Snip Avenue to wait, and play Pokemon. In hindsight I should have asked someone to bring down an umbrella for me.

After 45 minutes/hatching 10+ Pokemon eggs, I asked how many more people are in front of me. The receptionist told me 10+, and said some of those waiting had been there for over 4 hours.

4 hours???

4 HOURS????

Normally companies pay overtime (x2, or at least 1.5) for working on a public holiday. Assuming that the employer pays $5(low) per hour, OT would be at least $7.50. Now, not many people would work OT on a public holiday for $7.50.

Why would these same people wait 4 hours for a haircut that costs $4.20 less? In essence, 1 hour of their time would be worth $4.20/4=$1.05!!

Now of course many of these people went to walk around and then came back later. But the number of people waiting inside and outside of the shop for a haircut was definitely more than 6. Only 2 of them were young girls, around 14 by my estimates. Even if they are 14, they can work at a fast food place for $3 up. The rest were middle aged people; there was a couple in their early thirties.

Do you think I can hire any of them for $1.05/hour, on a public holiday?

Ok, granted it is just to sit around and message/read magazines/stone. But calafares are paid more than $1.05, aren't they?

Snip Avenue definitely has a winning business model here. Attract a crowd of low paying customers for an essential service (you have to get your hair cut somewhere, why not here? Only $3.80!). Then, assign minimal manpower to low paying customers (1 hairstylist for 10+++ people queueing). Finally, upsell augmented services to customers.

They had a rebond/treatment/cut/wash/blow package for only $38. A girl came in to ask about it, but the receptionist implied to the girl the inferior chemicals used would "spoil her hair", and recommended a $68 or $98 (Shiseido) package instead. She did it, not sure which one, but definitely not the $38 one.

Thumbs up!

Moral of the story: Bring your wallet and umbrella out with you everywhere you go.

Food for thought: Would the Snip Avenue model work elsewhere in the world?

PS: Anyone plays Pokemon on DS? Let's trade!

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