May 5, 2008

Aljunied Town Council And A Matter of Principle

From the Straits Times:

ST May 5, 2008
Aljunied trash index aims to wipe out litterbugs
Conservancy fees may be tied to index, with dirtiest precincts paying more
By Alfred Siew

TIRED of hardcore litterbugs, Aljunied GRC plans to start measuring the cleanliness of its precincts under a new litter index to be introduced in October.

Officials also said they will consider raising the conservancy charges for the dirtiest precincts to cover the extra work that goes into maintaining them.

The index, the first of its kind in Singapore, was unveiled on Saturday by the GRC's Members of Parliament.

They said that it was designed to encourage residents to change their attitudes towards tossing trash.

Aljunied Town Council chairman Cynthia Phua said that the index would be based on the cleanliness of lifts, the condition of public property and how large pieces of rubbish are disposed.

She told The Straits Times yesterday that the council would tie conservancy charges to the index only if it found an objective measure of cleanliness.

The plan is under consideration and would not be confirmed until next year, she said.

Would it be right, as a matter of principle, for Aljunied Town Council to raise conservancy charges in the manner proposed above? Let's discuss.

The most obvious objection is that all the residents in the dirty precincts would have to pay higher conservancy charges, even though the large majority of them may be civic-minded residents who do not litter.

Once again, it would be a case of innocent Singaporeans being punished for a wrong they did not commit and could not personally prevent.

It is one thing to catch a litterbug and impose a fine on him. It is quite another thing to impose a fine (or a higher conservancy charge) on a resident, just because he happens to live in an area with more litterbugs around.

All the residents are already paying their usual conservancy charges. The amount they currently pay is already more than enough to maintain the cleanliness of the Aljunied GRC area. Check out the Aljunied Town Council's financial statements yourself.

In the 2006/2007 financial year, the Aljunied town council collected $31,955,492 in conservancy and service fees. They spent only $4,237,162 on cleaning works.

Their accumulated surplus for the year, as at 31 March 2007, was $4,964,022. Which means that in 2006/2007, they could have spent DOUBLE the amount they actually did, on cleaning works, and still have money left over.

Just as a side point, what about their gigantic sinking funds? Check out the Aljunied Town Council's balance sheet. They have more than $90,000,000 in surpluses accumulated over the years. And yes, the bulk of which would have come from the conservancy and service fees paid by Aljunied residents.

Of that amount, $36,270,609 is reported to be sitting in the bank as fixed deposits. Another $44,045,035 is reported as being held for "trading investments". What's that? On further inspection, we see that it means $12,587,775 invested in stocks; $21,082,590 invested in bonds; and $11,981,315 invested in unit trusts.

Does the Aljunied Town Council sound poor to you?

(The sinking funds can't be used for general cleaning works, but their enormous size raises other sorts of questions, which I'll discuss in a future post).

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow lau...guess now buying re-sale flat in Aljunied GRC also must factor in the cleanliness of the block. Btw is conservancy charge around "Litter" India lower?

Gary Teoh said...

Just because of a few litterbugs, the whole precient has to pay more S&C charge ? why not the TC employ more officers to catch the litter bugs instead of putting the blame to the residents, after all Seng Han Thong said we need to employ foreign workers which are cheaper.They dare to increase the fee, I will vote them out in Aljunied, and vote in Slyvia Lim of WP.Fed up !!!!so many rules and regulation in this 1st world country !!!

Anonymous said...

Wonder how much the management and staff are paid and their bonuses. Certainly the collections and surplus are huge for a business involving just maintenance and upkeep of an estate. Furthermore they are not doing it themselves, they sub-out the work at a fraction of the collections. And they use some of the huge surpluses for risky investment. Do they have the talent to do this or sub-out as well? Are they collecting too much in charges and any benchmark justification?
This is another of numerous examples of how Singapore have high cost in everything, even for mundane and routine matters and partly how the government and its agencies are contributing to inflation. Value for money?

Anonymous said...

Good work Mr Wang!

The poor,infirm,helpless and voiceless in Singapore need more people like you, NMP Siew Kum Hong and the ever sarcastic Lucky Tan.

Maybe not in our life time, can we see a real democratic Singapore but as sure as the sun rises from the east, our children will.

Thanks to all those people throughout Singapore's history, who are not afraid to stand up for JUSTICE in the face of TYRANNY.

God bless and God speed.

Singaporean

Peesai Agong said...

Maybe they want take from dirty area and let cleaner area pay less?

Eh wait, it's not election year yet.

Anonymous said...

The way things are going, even after paying up the instalments for our HDB flats, we are going to have to pay for conservancy charges that will just continue to go up and up for sure.

Looking at all the walkways and structures that came up with upgrading, who will eventually end up paying for repairs and maintenance? The foolish residents who asked for them of course.

No wonder that is a joke circulating that whenever help is offered people have to run for cover.

Anonymous said...

The idea is to use the minimum enforcement efforts possible to keep the estate clean.

They are likely to maintain the current budget for cleaning the estate.

Catching the litterbugs would incur additional costs for additional enforcement manpower and administrative works. The best thing is that their Council officers do not need get out of their air-conditioned offices.

What happened when the estate become very clean after the fee increase? Will it be reduced? Based on what we know so far, what goes up may goes up again.

Now, are they sure it is the "Singapore residents" (phrase borrowed from MOM) that littered the place?

Gary Teoh said...

S&C are too high, and Car park $90 too expensive,what is the reason for increasing car park fee ? Fuel increase ? They already collected back the building cost after so many years.Nowadays living in HDB is a lot more pressure than say 20 years ago.

RICHARD SEAH said...

As the saying goes... "PAY AND PAY"

It is depressing enough to live in a dirty block of flats, like I do in AMK. As it is, I am already fed up of my neighbours for their disregard for cleanliness.

If the threat - let's hope it is only a threat - makes them more considerate, well and good.

If conservancy charges are raised, that would make me even more resentful of my neighbours.

And I thought the Garmen likes to encourage neighbourly ties and a strong "kampong" spirit?

Anonymous said...

The plan might work!.....and also possibly open up a can of worms.
Yes, only the culprits of litter should be penalised, and to the fullest extent! and more!

Why should residents who do not litter pay S&C charges inflated for "services" that are caused by inconsiderate others?

When and if littering has stopped, the S&C Charges should be reduced!

Anonymous said...

wah, that's how they reward the citizens who voted for them? (instead of WP)

Anonymous said...

Let's analyse the carpark P&L:

Assume 16 lots per deck, 10 decks per car park. Assume 80% subscription: 128 lots x $90 a month = $11,520.

Cost of maintaining carpark:
Electricity: assume $1000/mth
Cleaning services: assume $1000/mth
URA inspector (assume cost-sharing between HDB and URA): $$1000/mth

Total costs: $3000/mth

Surplus: $8,520/mth

Even a humble carpark that requires little maintenance can make close to $10,000 a month profit.

Someone please tell me Govt is not overcharging.

Anonymous said...

The easy way out. This has been and continue to be the policy of the pap government in their attack on a problem. There are so many rules, regulations and laws that were enacted to control, conditioned and punished Singaporeans for the obnoxious behaviours of a few blacksheeps. Instead of isolating and educating or punishing the black sheep, they just blanket up the problem. In this way the government made their own job easier but unnecessarily burden and punish Singaporeans. Some laws even presumed you are guilty until u can prove that you are innocent.

pissed said...

This is the same logic behind punishing employers of maids. The govt passes its responsibilities to the people. This is also similar to the way it outsources its duty of care to charities, leading to the scandals that was NKS, and still to come Ren Ci.

What the govt is also saying is that you citizens are at fault. But is it so? Take a walk to Little India and most HDB housing estates to witness the deteriorating cleanliness. Witness the foreign workers gatherings on weekends. Who opened the floodgates to these majority low wage, lowly educated foreigners? It is very clear in the past decade, level of littering has increased alongside increase in foreign worker population. And the numbers look set to continue to go up further. Singapore can no longer claim to be a clean and garden city. Who brought on this problem? Average Singaporeans or the govt?

dennis said...

Another case of 'boh chap' (care less) attitude of the highly paid, highly qualified the council and committee members.

When a problem such as littering occurs they just punish the whole group of people instead of finding the culprit. Finding the actual culprit or culprits is a more difficult task and they are taking a easy way out here.

Catching those responsible for the litter? Naahhh! The council and committee members really can't be bothered. They have much better things to do with their definately above average salaries.
Rather than Pay And Pay, PAP should also stands for Punish And Punish.

I tried to look into the financial statement of Aljunied as provided by Mr Wang's hyperlink. But I only went as far as the list of council and the numerous committee members. Besides them there'll obviously be numerous admin and supporting staff as well.

I then understand the need for the never ending increase in fees to employ these PAP handpicked, topnotch, special skills administrators and managers.

PAY AND PAY
Punish And Punish

Thank you very much 66.6%.

Gary Teoh said...

FYI, car park need what maintenance, how often you see cleaners sweep the car park,the newspapers thrown there for a week, nobody dispose it.$90 is too much,Tak Boleh Tahan!!!I think sooner or later , they will increase to $100.

Anonymous said...

all these surpluses grow and take a life of their own - surplus for surplus sake, not to help the residents or citizens -

eg GIC reserves not to help poor in inflation but to help citibank and UBS

NTUC fairprice - rice of price going up while they still have 6 month old stock at old prices -see forum pages by Seah Kian Peng - caught with their fingers in the pie...PAINFUL TRYING TO READ HIS DEFENCE

NTUC income - read Tan Kin Lian latest blast at NTUC - where again it is trying to keep a reserves

All the while citizens are being penalised while reserves / surpluses are growing and YOU CAN'T TOUCH THIS.

Anonymous said...

Another case of ends justifying th means.. no amount is 'enough'.
I would like to see these issues addressed as far as their investment strategy is concerned:
1. What are their investment objectives given to these fund managers?
2. What are the benchmark returns and the associated risks involved?
3. What are their risk management policies for the Town Council and who is qualified to review/advise?
4. What are the profits made used for if not just to add on to their vast coffers already?
5. How does each and every household who contributed to this huge sums benefitting from it?
6. Who is accountable if there are losses as no fund manager can guarantee the principal (e.g. in equitites).

pissed again said...

This situation is a snapshot of Singapore Inc. The signs were there already e.g. NKF. The hoarding of reserves. Who benefits from it? The fund managers?

Singapore Inc under the PAP is milking the people and using the money to pay their own people, buying votes. In essence the rationale is the same as those behind Compulsory Annuity. Pool a sum of money, lock it in, invest it, pay out pittance and let it sustain itself. The govt is not helping you even with one cent, you are helping yourself and they skim some off.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder if those policy makers have any brains. Do they think that only residents use the common areas of precincts? What about visitors and passers-by from other parts of Singapore? What about workers in neighbouring Business Parks, Industrial Estates, offices? Shoppers and school children? And of course, cheapskate real estate agents who are increasingly pasting their ads onto walls of HDB flats instead of advertising on papers?

Where oh where are those brains?

Anonymous said...

If the litterbugs are really hardcore litterbugs, what's to stop them from tossing their trash in other blocks when they start charging higher conservancy fees, just to feel good that they can outsmart the council people?

Or if they really want to be helpful (these litterbugs), they should toss the litter at the council office then they charge themselves. Ha Ha Ha

chappy said...

Here is where Singapore's "great" PR skills can learn a lesson from their most unlikely teacher EVER; World of Warcraft.

Back in the beta testing of WoW, to encourage players to take regular breaks from gaming, they would impose a penalty on gamers who stay logged on for too long, the penalty being lesser XP.

After numerous complains from the players, they decided to reverse the penalty and instead of penalizing the players for spending lengthy time on the game, they rewarded players who log out of the game with additional XP.

With this lesson in mind, the Aljunied Town Council should reward the residents with the least litter a discount.

But of course, they will never listen to me. :(

Anonymous said...

Now, if they start to charge according to an index, what I fear is that this may be the start of an escalating rise in conservancy charges all over Singapore. Who is to judge what is the criteria for being clean or dirty and who is to go around doing the assessment? The town council people? So, it's more people, more expenses, more increases in conservancy charges.

When they start to peg charges according to an index, soon we may see charges being pegged to condo standards under the pretext of helping to keep precints clean. I suspect this is another money-making idea which the town councils are trying to exploit.

Anonymous said...

George says:

Mr Wang,

The inevitable conclusion is that the ATC is in effect imposing a fine as punishment on people who happened to live in an estate with more litter bugs than others. It is treating Singaporeans head of households in such estate like school boys. It is in effect also taking the law into its own hand to mete out punishment/discipline to residents, including the vast majority who are innocent, under the guise of cost recovery. Isn't this illegal?

Anonymous said...

S&C charges are proportionately high, considering that the town councils employ mainly foreign workers who are a dime a million.

That's why I have repeatedly said in TOC that the Govt is earning more than necessary and not spending enough, on the people, that is. Everything must be viewed in proportion. With the astronomical surpluses everywhere that the Govt gets her hands on, why is it so difficult to justify removing GST on basic goods and services, and on public goods and services? Why is it so difficult to cap GST at 5% for all other items, since the Govt is already reaping huge surpluses from all fronts? Because Money No Enough.

Logicalman

omongpapkosong said...

Haiya. what they need is more money for their high salaries.
All of us had been taken in for a ride.
Their brains are all focus on $$$$$$ and $$$$$$$$$$$
Well in the next GE, we'll see who's gonna pay the high price.

PAP=Pay and Pay
=Poor also Pay
=Punish and Punish
PAP=PUNISH ALL PUBLIC

=

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang:

Nice one.

I am guessing that these are the possible scenarios.

1) The index is an accurate representation of the cleaniness

The dirtiest areas really end up have the lowest index ratings and result in a high conservancy charge. When people are aware of the higher charges in the area, it will then affect the property prices as well. Property agents in the future will most probably even use the index in their sales pitch.

In the long term, rentals in these areas might increase as well because the landlords now have to pay higher chargers.

2) The index ends up as an excuse to rise price throughout Singapore.

Even clean district start paying more money.

Both ways, heartlanders lose. sigh.

Chong Han

Alan Wong said...

If the Aljunied seat is ever lost to the opposition in the next election, does it would mean that whatever monies invested by the Town Council will be transferred out to some other account out of reach of the opposition Town Council board.

Knowing how mean PAP can be when it comes to dealing with the opposition, I just wonder whether the ownership of such monies would automatically revert under the control of our President as with our current reserves.

Incidentally, I also wonder whether the ever-expanding surplus will ever benefit the Aljunied residents.

Anonymous said...

Mas Selamat scandal:
You break the rule, you alone get all the punishment.

Town council:
You break the rule, everyone else gets the punishment.

Logicalman

cheng said...

If Aljunied GRC dare raise its conservancy charges, I will print out the financial statements and show it to my friends living in the precinct, then go together to a meet-the-uselsss-MPs session, show it to the useless MP and demand a reason on the spot.

So much for "when times are good, gov't will take care of you."

Bloody useless so-called talents just need to line their own pockets first.

Kai said...

Ka-Ching!

I can just about visualize the MPs rubbing their hands in glee and salivating at such a smart and seemingly logical approach to 'save' and make more money for their GRCs and get larger bonuses at year's end.

recruit ong said...

If the Aljunied seat is ever lost to the opposition in the next election, does it mean that whatever monies invested by the Town Council will be transferred out to some other account out of reach of the opposition Town Council board.


This is exactly wat i was thinking too. Where will the monie go? This is a scenario worth pondering bcos it has not happened yet. The oppositions in potong pasir and hougang have run their wards at lower cost all these yrs.

Notice the 2 oppo wards are very small in size.. over the yrs redrawing of election boundaries have reduced their size while enlarging the neighbouring PAP wards. Means PAP gets to squeeze more hahaha.

Anonymous said...

Even in Hougang and Potong Pasir right now, some town council funds are already beyond the reach of the opposition, so if Aljunied GRC does fall to the opposition it goes without saying that the rules will be changed to prevent the opposition from laying their hands on it. You never realise how small-minded they can be and they have the cheek to label some Singaporeans as small-minded on the foreign workers issue.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, any public service organization should not be profit oriented. TCs should return excess conservancy funds to its residents on a regular basis (e.g. yearly?) instead of investing it. Funds needed for repair works should be raised as-and-when the occasion arises.

Keeping hefty surplus is unethical and (in my view) daylight robbery if the funds are not passed on to the political party winning over the ward. That's brings to mind, the political parties and public service should be more de-coupled... it does not make sense that country = government = PAP.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the town council return part of the funds back to the Residents?

Why don't they reduce the amount of conservancy charges collected from the residents?

Is money still not enough for them?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,
Kindly run a post on this piece of news..
http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,164009,00.html

CDC staff shouting at Singaporean who were there to seek help.. i guess this is why some choose to end their life by jumping..

Anonymous said...

Wow! Their "fine" business really growing in patterns.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Wang, for raising this and reminding us exactly how much money all these town councils have taken from us.

wastrel e said...

whoa...such a brilliant idea..we meaning they should raise more of their salaries for coming up with such innovative way to say that they are increasing the conservancy charges...zzzz

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang;

please enlighten us; under the Law of the Republic of Singapore, other than a Court of Law, is it legal for any other bodies(pte co. stat boards, Civil Organizations) to impose monetary fine(as punishment)?

patriot.

Anonymous said...

how about assigning an index to each trash Man in White?

Shorty Wong is of the first to get a negative index, followed by Pinkie Lee.

Negative index kena sai from people. How about that, self-proclaimed elite?

Anonymous said...

obviously singaporeans should be fined together!!

NS didn't teach you that before, meh?

all must suffer together, rite? one of u screw up, all ta1 the blame together.

and anyway, who are you to criticize our lee-ders.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

no wonder you haven't been identified as one of the future political talents by the ruling party -- you simply aren't far sighted enough!

The millions of dollars will come in very handy to build lots and lots of fountains and playgrounds when the next election comes. It's the simplest trick in the book! :)

Anonymous said...

And I'm sure the made a lot of money from renting out public property for pasar malams, fun fairs, etc.

orange said...

well, there are foreigners living in HDBs too. just this month, twice i saw Ch*na man peeing on the grass!! why should the HDB heartlanders (majority are locals) be slapped with fines when the culprit could the one or two foreigners who bears different "culture" - littering, spitting are norm in their country.

but then again, this conservative charge doesnt sound like a huge surprise. anyway,

Drawing parallel:

HDB litter problem
root: litter bugs
solution: catch the litter bugs
how: employ more officers to nab them... impose PERSONAL fines to deter them... etc
instead: fine the entire block. well done!!

congested road problem:
root: too many cars, inefficient traffic lights.
solution: restrict cars, i guess the gahman wouldnt bother about re-timing the traffic lights which cost a bomb from their tight pockets.
how: quota on cars, or build more roads on our already tinyyy much-developed land etc
instead: set up 15 more ERP gantrys. and even more in time to come?

Anonymous said...

Money passed on to the next MP for the GRC? i don't think so. when the opposition won the constituency, the community centre which was used by the previous MP immediately went to the PM office.

when the surplus went into the reserve, was it for use when the Elected President call for it? Think again

SevenEleven

Mr Wang Says So said...

Sorry - I accidentally rejected three comments when I intended to reject only one (it came from a slightly loony guy who keeps sending me irrelevant nonsense + hate mail). To the other two readers, feel free to repost if you want to.

jax said...

I agree with this post and the message that it sends out. However, I would like to dilute the issues out for examination.

Firstly, the idea of an index to peg the conservancy charge on makes sense. From an economic point of view, the cost to clean up a dirty block and a comparatively cleaner block is not the same. More work hours are incurred in cleaning up a dirty block.

When employing economic sense and logic, the plan actually is a sound one. By charging more for dirty blocks, the residents who are penalized will then keep a keener lookout for litterbugs and also to report them or tell them off instead of turning a blind eye and saying "Its not of my business." Let's face it, how many of you will voluntarily do something about the situation and report litterbugs or tell off offenders? It is the nature of the average Singaporean not to do anything about it unless it concerns their pocket.

The problem now is that conservancy fee on the whole should be reduced as pointed out already by many people. However, the plan to shift the burden disproportionately to dirtier blocks with some objective measures in place should be considered.

If during the trial period, the overall cleaniness is actually improved, in theory, the town council can then employ less workers to clean up the place and also employ less officers to do their spot checks for litterbugs because it will be self-regulated. With less workers and officers employed, the cost of operation should go down as well and result in lower conservancy fees for everyone.

I feel that people should not be emotive in blasting these plans just because they were initiated by the government. The plan in itself holds water. Instead of blasting the plan, I think criticism should be directed towards the right culprits like the management.

jax said...

Anonymous said "Wonder how much the management and staff are paid and their bonuses. Certainly the collections and surplus are huge for a business involving just maintenance and upkeep of an estate."

So what do you suggest? The government retrench them? Or reduce salaries of such civil servants?

On one hand we complain about depressed salaries of the average person and the REAL civil servants (not the ministers) and on other hand, ......?

Anonymous gave his own breakdown of maintenance and subscription costs of a HDB carpark.

However, it is a very unscientific and unverified breakdown. Besides, he did not factor in the cost of building the carpark in the first place. The building of the carpark is not charged to residents of the flats as not everyone owns a car. So the cost of carpark should include the initial cost of building the carpark and the rental costs of that piece of land when employed in some other usage.

I am not saying that we should not criticize the government. I am just saying that we need to employ sharper and more EFFECTIVE arguments against them. By posting anonymously such unverified claims, it is just ranting and it does not aid an argument at all.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Jax:

Thank you for your comment. Economically speaking, your comment makes no sense because the town council is already collecting more conservancy charges than it needs to clean Aljunied (refer to my post). In other words, the town council is not short of funds - it actually has EXCESS funds.

Proceeding on your lines of reasoning, a much more economically sensible suggestion would be for the town council to GIVE rebates/refunds to residents who live in the cleaner precincts.

Mr Wang Says So said...

How much the members of the town council are paid is also shown in the financial statements. I did not comment on that as it's not relevant to the ST article that I was writing about.

However, as a matter of common sense, all stakeholders should always be interested to know (for the sake of discouraging excesses) how much the senior management is being paid. This holds true, whether you are talking about a town council; a charity; a listed company; or a country (eg with respect to ministerial salaries).

Anonymous said...

Now I know why I live in Hougang...

jax said...

well said and agree with you totally, Mr Wang. The concept of the initial plan was correct and creative in its conceptualization. Equally so, a rebate for the cleanest blocks will work well and solve the problem as well. Instead of awarding meaningless "Cleanest Precinct Awards", probably it would be high time for the town councils to put the money where their mouths are.

I agree with you on the point of us as stakeholders know what is being paid to these people. However, I am concerned about the point being whether this excess is good or bad for the nation. On one hand, such excesses of manpower might reduce the unemployment rate and give some of the citizens well paying jobs. On the other hand, it is a wastage of our taxes. Can we see these excesses in govt manpower as a "subsidy or welfare for the otherwise unemployed"?

Anonymous said...

Quote:Firstly, the idea of an index to peg the conservancy charge on makes sense. From an economic point of view, the cost to clean up a dirty block and a comparatively cleaner block is not the same. More work hours are incurred in cleaning up a dirty block.Unquote

Comment: That is the basic problems with the pap approach to problem solving - reduce everything and anything into $ and cents. Where is the sense of fairness ? Where is the humane dimension ?

Quote:When employing economic sense and logic, the plan actually is a sound one. By charging more for dirty blocks, the residents who are penalized will then keep a keener lookout for litterbugs and also to report them or tell them off instead of turning a blind eye and saying "Its not of my business." Let's face it, how many of you will voluntarily do something about the situation and report litterbugs or tell off offenders? It is the nature of the average Singaporean not to do anything about it unless it concerns their pocket. Unquote

Comment: The pap should be seriously doing some soul searching as to why after almost 50 years of their indoctrination and control, Singaporeans have degenerated into such uncaring creatures. Are Singaporeans learning from the pap especially in their $ and cents approach to the management of Singapore. Has it ever occur to you that if the Singaporeans are as you describe, then the country could be very easily bought over by someone with huge sums of money.

Quote: If during the trial period, the overall cleaniness is actually improved, in theory, the town council can then employ less workers to clean up the place and also employ less officers to do their spot checks for litterbugs because it will be self-regulated. With less workers and officers employed, the cost of operation should go down as well and result in lower conservancy fees for everyone. Unquote

Comment: Why trial it ? Why even bother to put forward something which is basically unfair and punative. Why not try the more positive approach of rewarding cleaner blocks by reducing their charges ? The sooner the pap government do a paradigm shift in their approach to problem solving from the current emphasis on negatives like punishment to a positive like reward for good behaviour, the better it will be for everyone in Singapore.

Quote : The plan in itself holds water. Unquote.

The plan is unfair and punative. Why punish the whole block when only a few are responsible for the problem ? Why punish the innocents who have no control over the whole situation. The council management has the power to control the situation, they should be the one who should be punished for not doing their job properly.

Anonymous said...

You lost me at Principle

yamizi said...

Why you live in Hougang?

jax said...

Quote: That is the basic problems with the pap approach to problem solving - reduce everything and anything into $ and cents. Where is the sense of fairness? Where is the humane dimension?

As much as you and I hope that there is the humane dimension and the sense of fairness in the government problem solving. If things are not reduced to $ and cents, everything will be very arbitary. There are many things that need to be accounted for like budgets and forecasts which needs to be about money. There must be both objective and subjective measures to account for the performance of our govt.

Quote: The pap should be seriously doing some soul searching as to why after almost 50 years of their indoctrination and control, Singaporeans have degenerated into such uncaring creatures. Are Singaporeans learning from the pap especially in their $ and cents approach to the management of Singapore. Has it ever occur to you that if the Singaporeans are as you describe, then the country could be very easily bought over by someone with huge sums of money.

Comment: So now the government is to be blamed for the people becoming uncaring creatures? I did we as human beings, not as citizens of Singapore, should be reflecting upon OURSELVES what have WE done to become such uncaring and politically apathetic and timid. Somewhere along the line, did we give up our souls to become economic robots? As to your question, the answer is Yes, I have considered that possibility. If the country could so be so easily bought over by someone by huge sums of money, I would not be sentimental about trying to preserve or protect this country because it is plainly not worth it.

Quote: Why trial it ? Why even bother to put forward something which is basically unfair and punative. Why not try the more positive approach of rewarding cleaner blocks by reducing their charges ? The sooner the pap government do a paradigm shift in their approach to problem solving from the current emphasis on negatives like punishment to a positive like reward for good behaviour, the better it will be for everyone in Singapore.

Comment: Yes, I have agreed with Mr Wang on that point already, refer to above post. However, you wanted the government to focus on a paradigm shift from negatives to rewarding. Honestly, I find that to be ridiculous. So we reward people who dont smoke or dont drink drink? Is that enough deterence to people that commit these offences? Care to comment about how the government uses incentives to win votes by dangling carrots? Thats reward for "good behaviour" indeed. Should it be encouraged then? There is no inherent right or wrong in using either reward or punishment but rather there should be a balance between reward and punishment and for the right purposes. A good and FAIR approach is not a paradigm shift suddenly towards rewards, both extremes are bad.

Quote: The plan is unfair and punative. Why punish the whole block when only a few are responsible for the problem ? Why punish the innocents who have no control over the whole situation. The council management has the power to control the situation, they should be the one who should be punished for not doing their job properly.

Comment: The council management has the power to control the situation, don't we not? I am VERY bemused at how people ALWAYS turn to the government for solutions whenever things screw up. For me, I rather the government NOT stick its hands into private affairs of people like in procreation and other social engineering projects they have and for a smaller government role with power controls. However, by always turning to the government whenever a situation arises, Singaporeans are showing the government that they need to be babysitted. Please stop doing that.

Anonymous said...

Penalizing through collective punishment is one of the oldest and laziest ways of trying to solve a perceived problem. That it rarely works is beside the point to those who choose to use it. Feudal China used it as did Communist Russia. Singaporeans have been reminded again and again to change their mindsets. Clearly, the Town Council needs to change its mindset too. Surely(to use some tired sounding buzz words much loved by bireaucrats) they can be more creative? If they can't they might then try hiring foreign talents.

Anonymous said...

So, what else is news?

It starts the day you are enlisted. If an a-hole made a mistake and did not own up, the whole platoon will be punished. At least this can be defended on the ground of building teamwork and esprit de corps.

Then, come every election, those constituencies who voted for the opposition are punished with no MRT station, belated upgrading, etc. Mind you, 30-40% are still voting for the PAP, but they are still being punished. And those who voted for the opposition are also taxpayers, yet they are also punished.

Policy making is actually very easy in Singapore. If the decision makers are too lazy to think of a real good creative solution, or if all else fails, just use money/fine/fees/ and or any punitive monetary measures. Work like a charm each and every time.

Anonymous said...

/// By charging more for dirty blocks, the residents who are penalized will then keep a keener lookout for litterbugs and also to report them or tell them off instead of turning a blind eye and saying "Its not of my business." ///

Jax, this is only tiny weeny little step away from the Gestapo, Stasi and the young Red Army kids in the good old Communist China who squealed on their neighbours and even parents.

What's next? Vigilante justice? You want me to report you for parking your car outside the painted box (that is an offence you know), for your kid inadventently dropping his sweet wrappers on the floor, for you not flushing the toilet after using?...

orange said...

to anon May 7 2008 8:12 PM,

the "positive approach of rewarding cleaner blocks" is a fantastic and feasible idea!!
(:

Anonymous said...

sounds like those recall personnel whom reached camp earliest yet made to stay back and wait for those late comers as 'punishment' for the late comers...world class logic

Yours, Peesai said...

Hehe Mr Wang, planning? Those guys got plan? Hehe not the helicopter one I see.

Remember many many years ago they take away the rubbish chute from every household to make it a communal one? Cut costs right? But notice your HDB rubbish collection every few years increase price?

Then if you connect, they now ask people use less plastic bag. Ask NTUC and supermarts don't give so many plastic bags. Eh, you know why people take plastic bags? Because you need to collect your rubbish in the plastic bags to bring to the communal rubbish chute mah! If got one at home, no need so many plastic bags!

See!

Who create problems with solutions that don't reach the objective anyway?

Hehehe

Anonymous said...

Works(duties) should commensurate with pays and vice-versa. This I am sure. But is actual situations in agreement? I am not too sure.

I do know that Singaporeans are told(demanded/instructed) and some maybe exhorted (persuaded/motivated) to expand their job scopes and duties(additional) on top of falling and stagnant wages. Overtime remunerations are almost non-existence as works are been assigned on project basis and demanded National Service liked sacrifices. One must play a part to ensure survivals of ones' country and employers voluntarily(or is it involuntary?).

However, duties commensurate with remunerations will apply in actual situations. Workers, supervisors and executives will carry out their duties half heartedly. May I theorize that even our leaders maybe functioning in this mode, hence the reason, they constantly claim pays not enough?

Not only will Singaporeans work half heartedly, they will find ways to escape responsibilities and culpabilities when things go wrong. Can they be blamed when foreigners are favoured by our policies makers?

When supervisors, executives and National Leaders exculpate themselves from responsibilities and culpabilities, who else will the blames be on? We, the peole, the consumers lah! We, the COMPLACENT LOT, when blamed, will be busying with ourselves pushing the blames to one another.

Who is the Winner in all these? The Authority lor. You can fight each others for all they care, in fact they love it; they successfully divide, conquer and make it easier TO RULE YOU, TO HAVE YOU UNDER CONTROLS. AND YOU HAVE TO PAY AND PAY. OUR LEADERS ARE GENIUSES and we really have to pray to them for mercies.

Crimes have risen tremendously, killings and fightings in Geylang. Old folks and children are targeted because they are weak and the culprits themselves are weak to take on their survival problems.

The case of a robber wanting to commit suicide due to a failed attempt at a 7 Eleven Store. Let us say, if he succeeded in his attempt, the 7 Eleven Employee on duty will probably lose his/her job. And if he dies in his suicide attempt, only his family will suffer. Who else cares and we are said 'TO BE FIRST WORLD' run by some of the best brains anywhere; shit!

Many are resorting to invoke their religious beliefs asking for divine interventions. And I noticed they did not ask for helps, they prayed for punishments on those they associate their plights to.

I do not owe anyone a living and I am an atheist and sadly, I empathise with the Desperates in our sick society. At least the Believers have a release(safety) valve, others took to the MRT Track, highrise building, poisons and what not. And all these happened right under the eyes of fellow Singaporeans! What have our Leaders done?

I apologize for this piece of ranting.

patriot.

Anonymous said...

I have 1 question and 1 observation on this issue. First, when the government declare a rebate for S&C charges to the flat owners ie a 1 mth rebate for a 5 room, a 2 months rebate for 4 room and so on. Does that mean the government pays on behalf of the flat owners the S&C charges or money is not collected for that month(s). What I am driving at is if there is no money being paid the total amount of money still remains the same and therefore in the future there may be a possibility of the Town Council increasing the S&C charges. However if govnment do make payment as reported during the budget debate, then I think that is fair. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Once again a person who is not in the position to do anything ie the home owner ends up paying more. What would stop somebody who does not stay in my block from peeing in my lift or dirtying the surrounding of my block. I will have to pay for it.

My suggestion put up more CCTV cameras.

Anonymous said...

Never believe at all what the pappies are saying nowadays especially in the area of your money. They are just simply too greedy for their own sake.
Be it job projection, GST revenue collection, GDP projection ,HDB subsidies ( whether your HDB flat prices include car park construction cost or not in the first place , nobody will ever knows...) forevr changing CPF minimum sum, CPF life , bla, bla ,bla. All are nonsense.

Come back to this topic of conservancy charge. It is unbelievable they only spend 4.2M (for cleaning jobs) versus a 32million fee collection. We are definitely being CHEATED as they only spent one-eight of the total revenue. Isn't this a case of profiteering as one of the MPs inside this GRC in charge of CASE.?
Should we have a campaign again to stop anti-profiteering in this GRC as we also saw in the case of GST increase (alas, we also don't see any thing happened in that propaganda campaign, everything also increases )
There are about 200 000 resident in Aljunied GRC or about 500 block of flats or approx 40 000 households each paying approx. $800. This will give the annual collection of 32M as reported collected our monies to invest in shares. The minister recently also want to put a max cap ( I think it is 30% ,need to verify) for this share investment.What nonsense is this? Talking about share investment using resident's monthly conservancy and service charge.

I wondered what they really meant by "dirty" in the surroundings. Where are the 1000 jobs paying $1000 dollars as what the minister said in the past? They said job re-creation to pay better wages. Use more machine to do the job. Where is it ? How many machines Aljunied GRC buy to do the cleaning jobs? They even put a "wayang" show on TV to promote the job re-creation effort.
Looking around , they are still using the cheap, cheap "foreign talent" to do the job . Hey, Hey , tell us what is the "productivity" of these FT workers.

Think positively , in every habitat in every corner of the world, one needs to do some form of cleaning up. This is probably every country's government has a ministry fully in-charge of the RUBBISH. Which cities do not have cleaners to do all these dirty stuff early in the wee hours? I saw all these happenings in San Francisco, Taipei, Hongkong , Sdyney, Shanghai...

Five men and women in this GRC , get your act together and stop whining about residents being "dirty". Do not play up this "DIRTY" trick. Whatever formula pappies come out will provide a nett increase in their total collection.

Anonymous said...

This is the best thing that George Yeo can come up with?

I expect more from a once professional soldier whose sole miliary task is area cleaning.

Time to BOOK OUT of Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Quote:If things are not reduced to $ and cents, everything will be very arbitary. Unquote

1.If accounts can be manipulated, and statistics can be abuse, where is the impartiality. So long as human mind and decision are involve there will always be that judgemental value.
2.There are areas of people and government relationship which must not and should not be reduce to $ and cents. Things like patriotism, loyalty.

Quote:So now the government is to be blamed for the people becoming uncaring creatures?Unquote

LKY and his government micro-managed the lives of Singaporeans. Not only are they subjected to daily indoctrination thru the pledge and the state-controlled media but the government thru polices are dictating to them where there can lived and how many children they should have. If the government reduce everything and anything into $ and cents, how do u expect the Singaporeans not to be materialistic ? Of course the pap government has to be blamed. Has Singaporeans any choice but to degenerate into such uncaring creature given the environment the pap created ?

Quote:So we reward people who dont smoke or dont drink drink? Unquote.

Why not ? I hope the MOH can implement a scheme to give a discount to patient who are certified non-smoker and non-drinker.

Quote:There is no inherent right or wrong in using either reward or punishment... Unquote

There is a world of difference in the two approaches. One harness the negative energy while the other harness positive energy. In this Internet age, government has no choice but to adopt a more enlighten approach. People these days are more motivated by positive energy than negative energy. The pap government has been harnessing too much negative enegies which is why Singaporeans are such unhappy lots.

Quote:I am VERY bemused at how people ALWAYS turn to the government for solutions whenever things screw up.Unquote.

1. There are certain problems which only government can solve. No amount of collective efforts by the citizens will be able to handle it.
2. The pap government has been mirco-managing the lives of Singaporeans. To expect Singaporeans to be independent overnight is just too much. If the pap government don't give them the space to do their own things, how do u expect them to develop the self help initiative ? If Singaporeans are so hammed in by all the restrictive rules and regulations, how do u expect them to develop the initiative ?

Anonymous said...

The problem of dirty HDB blocks, is in my view, analogous to the story of run-down, crime-ridden precincts in New York City and how the previous Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani solved the problem.

You are probably familiar with Rudy's concept of zero tolerance for 'broken windows'. If an area looks run down, it is likely to attract more crime which in turn makes it look even more run down.

Similarly, if an HDB block is dirty, it is likely to attract more litter which then makes it even harder to keep clean.

Solution is not to use blanket approach of taxing the inhabitants of the block. Remember, dirt attracts more dirt and the dirt could come from passers-by. (Ever wonder why blocks closer to markets and bus stations are usually more dirty.)

Better approach is to use the huge surpluses of the town council and allocate them to policing and cleaning the dirtier blocks. Used in this way, a dirtiness index might actually be good. And if we can have neighbourhood police, why not town council police who have powers to arrest litter-bugs.

Problem with PAP government is its reflex approach of upping prices and government fees to solve any problem that arise. It doesn't always work that way. Government coffers will bulge but the behaviour modification which the increased fee is meant to bring about doesn't materialise.

Well, Rudy of New York repaired the broken windows once they appeared and diverted huge police resources to the problem precincts. Seems to have worked for New York although I think Democrats would disagree.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,
I dont know how much you know about Chinese History, but if you do, you will probably notice LKY probably is a big fan of Qin's kingdom law reformist Shang Yang.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shang_Yang

As an FT law minister during 361BC, he transform Kingdom Qin from a poor kingdom and without natural resources to the most powerful and eventualy united China 100+ yr later by Qin Shi Huang (The first emperor).

His key reform that PAP adopted.
1. 连坐之法. i.e if someone within your area commits a crime, whole neighbourhood will be punished as per the same crime.
2. Ecourage immigration to boost population and taxation.
3. Reward new-born. To boost population.
4. 制定严厉的法律, tough law.
5. Privatised land.

but that was 2500 yrs ago... we are really going backward..

Luther

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Honestly, I find that to be ridiculous. So we reward people who dont smoke or dont drink drink?"

-- LOL, yes of course. Haven't you bought medical insurance before? Smokers always have to pay higher premiums.

"Is that enough deterence to people that commit these offences?"

-- I think deterrence is useful. Yes, fines should be imposed on people who commit the offences. Not the residents who live in the same area as them.

Anonymous said...

The whole notion of using fines (and rebates) strike me as disappointing.

The solution to this is classical, everyone knows, yet not mentioned - education and shared ownership.

Do you need to be fined in order to keep your own living room litter free?
Your mom may have rewarded you with a sweet when you were young, for sweeping the house. But do you still need any tangible incentive in order for you to sweep your house now?

If litter is a problem (and I am making a huge assumption that the offender is a resident there), then what needs to be addressed is the education and shared ownership of public places.

Has it always been a problem?
Is it a recent problem?

If it is the latter, surely we can identify a possibility of new residents (who may have come from a different culture, where there is no concept of shared public spaces) who are the culprits.
Is the TC not capable of identifying such new residents?
Is the TC not capable of better education campaigns to inculcate shared ownership?

Didn't we study that way back in moral education or 好公民?

Mr Wang Says So said...

You're right - if you consider only the cleanliness/dirtiness aspect. And ignore the fact that the TC has collected a lot more money from residents, over the years, than it actually needs.

If you did not ignore that fact, you'd be interested in how to return some of the money to the residents.

Anonymous said...

A friend from a remote region in Northern India was chatting with me in a coffee shop. That place he came from could be called under-developed by Singapore's infrastructural standard as he told me that it took him weeks just to get his passport approved and issued.

I asked what he thought of Singaporeans. Right at that very moment a Singaporean who was walking by spitted on the ground, to which he remarked "I find that Singaporeans do not seem to love their own country. Just look at that".

That made me wonder which country is more developed, his or ours?

Why after more than more 40 years of so-called PAP's sponsored nation-building, our people are so lacking in civic-mindedness?

Look at the public toilets, the littering everywhere, look at the pathetic sight of countless holes in coffee shops' extended canvas roofs made by cigarette throwing from upper floors, look at the reckless spitting which sometimes splatted on the window screens of vehicles.

Blame the govt. Yes, I am going to explain that at the end of this post but before that I am calling Singaporeans also to take responsibility for their own country.

This of course does not blind me to the fact that there are many civic-minded, environmentally-conscious Singaporeans such those who collect every bits and pieces of recyclable items for recycling instead of dumping them into the rubbish chute.

At the same time there are no lack of those wanting in civic-mindedness. And why?

And why must the govt always resort to fines and other forms of punishment like shaming them through community work in trying to resolve this social problem?

Why are people in other countries including less developed ones sometimes better behaved than us?

Here then is my broader diagnosis of this social problem:

Ask ourselves why generally speaking people do not have to be told to keep their own houses in order. They do not have to be told not to spit or throw rubbish around in their own homes.

I believe the reason comes down to the fact that they feel and know that the house belong to them.

Therefore the real reason people dirty the public places with abandon is because they never feel those places belong to them!

This can further be explained by the fact that PAP never succeed in nation-building at all in the real sense of the word, if at base nation-building is about community, about people feeling and knowing that they have built and own the nation from bottom-up.

Instead what PAP has engineered all along is top-down in nature from community organisations to trade unionism.

Community centres and resident committees for instance are contrived top-down from PAP through its People's Association and MP office, both PAP's organisations.

Trade unionism under NTUC, another PAP's organisation, is just a cover for the total wiping out of any genuine bottom-up labour movement.

It is misleading for PAP to claim that there is a symbiotic linkage between PAP and People's Association, between PAP and NTUC.

This is because the PA and NTUC are in fact nothing but just PAP under other names.

Under such top-down organisation of society, it is no wonder our people never feel that public spaces belong to them.

This lack of community is further reinforced by PAP, not least Lee Kuan Yew always claiming that he built this nation, as though no a single other soul existed but him alone in Singapore.

This voiding of community feeling is further exacerbated by the denial of democratic rights of the people be it in the freedom of speech, press and association - never mind these democratic rights are still enshrined in the Constitution of Singapore.

The press is nationalised and stringently controlled, public speeches are allowed only with a police permit in Hong Lim Park where nobody but a few old folks are around to listen and sometimes smirk at and gathering of more than 4 persons without a permit is strictly speaking illegal.

Under such circumstances, how do we expect people to feel that they own this country in so far as public spaces are concerned. At the most they feel that they own their homes but the moment they walk out of the gate, that's the government's business, as it were.

It is not so much that they consciously think that they pay for the cleaners to tidy up the public places but rather that they have been conditioned to set a very clear boundary between their homes and the public places - thanks to PAP way of running this country.

It is no longer a case where if you drum more education into people they will become more civic-minded. This is because when facts conflict with teachings, facts will win out in most instances.

By if we are still thinking of education to drive civic-mindedness home via the schools and mass media, then let us understand that societal facts are but ideology made "flesh" , and hence more real, more convincing than ideology as mere doctrine.

For this reason, PAP will try and try without success to solve the social problem of littering. It has spent the last 40 years in all kinds of expensive campaigns from indoctrination to imposing heavy fines and still the problem refuses to go away.

This is because the real cause of the problem is PAP itself !

It does not understand or simply refuse to accept the fact that true community, true civic-mindedness grows out of people extending their sense of ownership beyond their selves and beyond their own families.

PAP cannot accept this because to do so is to overturn everything it has built which is a top-down, legalistic and dictatorial system which insists that all public spaces are outside the domain of the people. To do so is to empower the people and to weaken PAP.

For this reason when someone once asked a PAP minister why students in institutes of higher learning are not allowed to be active on national issues such as seen in other democracies the answer given was "It is because there is too much at stake for them; they should take care of their own future and leave politics to the govt."

This is a kind of twisted idiotic logic which says that you are not allowed to participate in the public issues because we don't allow it, because we want you to be powerless.

At the end of the day this subject issue is not so much about littering only but about whether PAP has succeeded in building a nation in the true sense of the word, one where people feel that they have ownership of this country, where people feel that every square foot of the ground is like their own property.

In some other democracies or even non-democracies people naturally cherish their own country and do not have to be told let alone punished for not doing so.

Of course there are always the wayward individuals in every country but what I am talking about is the extent of this social problem of lack of civic-mindedness, especially when Lee Kuan Yew keeps boasting to the world that he has moved Singapore from a third world to a first world status.

Frankly, how can this nation truly achieve such a first world status when the leadership is possessed of a backward third-world mentality in so far as nation-building is concerned?

Anonymous said...

Come on! Why Aljunied Town Council being mentioned? Think again, why not the other GRCs?
Are there dirtier people around in Aljunied GRC. HDB doesn’t have any quota system for the cleanliness level of the flat buyer. I think there should not be any significant difference in the “cleanliness lifestyle” of residents between the other GRCs , be it pap-run or Opposition –run.
All pap-run town councils have also collected resident’s money for some sort of share investment.
I think this is for political posturing. They want to gauge how the people especially Aljunied GRC will respond to this nonsense cleanliness index, who nearly voted them out in the last election. Believe or not, the name Aljunied GRC will disappear in the next election boundaries map. My guess for the new names like Tai Seng GRC, Ubi GRC, Serangoon GRC.
LOL, Think and say it loud!

fraupenguin said...

Should keeping your environment clean be the responsibility of everyone (Singaporeans + foreigners living in Singapore alike)?

In 1st world Japan, you would be hard pressed to find public rubbish bins. People are expected to bring whatever trash they consumed during the day, home to dispose off. If someone litters, the people around him/her would give disapproving looks (ie. community pressure on the litter bug). There are even signs everywhere illustrating something along the lines of....Do not liter. If you do, people will look at you (they even draw pictures of this!). Damn...i should take photos of these educational signs and post them on my blog!

In 1st world Germany, if you disposed your rubbish incorrectly (fot example not sorting the different types of rubbish accordingly), your neighbours WILL tell you off.

Another classic case of Singaporeans complaining all the time.

The issue of how much surplus the town council has is another issue altogether. Let's go back to the basics of what it means to be living in a civilised community.

If you see your neighbour littering and choose to keep your opinion to yourself, then really, who should be blamed? Government policies cannot make it's people civilised. Being civilised lies in the hands of every individual citizen.

Duh...rather simple logic...

Mr Wang Says So said...

Obviously if the town council is not charging conservancy fees for maintaining cleanliness, it need not be responsible for maintaining cleanliness.

And if the town council is charging conservancy fees for maintaining cleanliness, it should be responsible for maintaining cleanliness.

And if the town council is already overcharging and yet still wants to raise fees without providing any additional cleaning, obviously singaporeans have the right to complain.

The same applies to any kind of service provider, not just town councils.

Anonymous said...

Quote:Should keeping your environment clean be the responsibility of everyone (Singaporeans + foreigners living in Singapore alike)? Unquote

Ideally it should be. But Singaporeans were not given the chance to evolve in that direction. How to when the pap government are such control freak. They micro managed Singaporeans with all sorts of restrictive and punative rules, regulations and laws. Moreover, the behaviour of the pap government leaders are less than gracious. It is difficult to find another country where their leaders go onto the world stage to run down and bad mouth their own citizens like what the pap leaders regularly did without any compucntion. Any first world country whose PM, in the heat of a GM publicly declared that if the people vote for more opposition mps he will have to spend more time, energy and money to buy votes and fix the oppositions, would have been forced to stand down. If the pap government wants Singaporeans to evolve gracious attitudes and behaviours, they have to start with themselves. So far I don't see any indication that they are moving in that direction. Infact they are getting worst like justifying the hike in GST as a means to help the poor. To me this is an absolute lie.

Quote:Another classic case of Singaporeans complaining all the time.Unquote.

Is it wrong for citizens to complain when things go wrong ? Which do you prefer, an engaging citizenry or a silent one ? I know what those who love power and money prefer. A silent and obedient citizenry will make their life that much more easier and confortable. However is it good for the country in the long run ?

Anonymous said...

If there were enough people who felt the same way about the PAP, then in the next election, they would be voted out.

Instead of complaining anonymously online, make yourselves heard by not voting for them. I wonder how many "Anonymous" posters here actually voted for the Opposition in the last election. But then again, none would be the wiser. We would never know now would we? ;)

If so many Singaporeans are disagreeable with PAP, then i'm sure in time to come, PAP will not be in power. However, going from the previous figures, the majority are/were in favour of the PAP over the Opposition.

Some complain that they did not have the option to vote (walk over zone etc). It may sound extreme but if anti-PAP feelings run so deep, then for goodness sake - what is stopping you from purchasing your property in the Opposition ward? Perhaps it's because of location and property prices? So in fact, for these group of complainers, factors such as financial gain is/was more important than voting the PAP out.

For the record - i didnt vote for the PAP in the last election. So shoot me if you dare. At least i stood up for something i believed in.

fraupenguin said...

"Which do you prefer, an engaging citizenry or a silent one?" (Anonymous, May 9, 2008 8:40 PM)

I prefer citizens who are active engaging as opposed to passive engaging. People should put their money (in this case, vote) where their mouth is.

Anonymous said...

Is it not our government's motto is "PAY & PAY" for all the basic necessities. You can imagine how much fund that are collected from GST thru the ever rising costs. Simple logic calcualtions!

Anonymous said...

BG George Yeo is one of the sharpest minds in PAP and therefore it is does seem odd that he would be employing a measure that would offend the voters in his Aljunied GRC.

This especially given the fact that his PAP team managed to garner only 56% of the votes during the last GE.

But precisely that could the reason this new punitive policy is being employed such as to test out whether rebellious blocks of flat - known via decentralised polling stations - could be punished and tamed using littering as a false reason.

If this disincentive works, the tactic can be used nationwide without inviting cries of high-handed electoral foul play towards voters.

PAP has shown that it is capable of various kinds of electoral strategy or tactics.

Desperate measures are called for during desperate straits. And I believe George and his team should rightly be desperately apprehensive of the next GE.

If the GRC is lost that will be the first time a full Cabinet Minister has lost his Parliamentary seat. That would be too much of a blow both for BG George and PAP.

Given that PAP had already stated through Minister Vivian Balakrishnan that it shall no longer use the redrawing of electoral wards as a strategy, it does not mean the shrewd minds of PAP cannot yet invent and test out other ways to keep on winning.

A cunning govt called for special vigilance by the people even if such vigilance it might come across as highly conjectural.

Anonymous said...

Hello Fraupenguin

From all your past comments in Mr Wang's blog ,you seem to be very proud of what the pappies have done for Singapore. You sang praises for the pappies and keep on saying Singaporean keeps on complaining or making a lot of noises like empty vessel as what you have written.

From your blog's name , I presumed you probably a Singaporean woman married to a German.(no offense if my guess is wrong) You have travelled (or probably lived) in Germany for quite some time to many part of the world as I did. In your latest comment, you mentioned Japan and Germany just to justify how clean they are and how dirty Singaporean (especially in this case, Aljunied GRC residents). You probably also not paying any single cent for S&C charges or vote in Singapore at all


May I ask you the question:
1)Are these 2 countries collected residents' money supposed for conservancy & service to invest in the share market?

2)Are you using the same scenario of living conditions , that is high rise public housing in high densely area? ( BTW if you are rich and live in a bungalow, you will not throw any thrash out of your windows , cos it will land it on your own garden or swimming pool) In Singapore, we also have very "clean people" living in Bukit Timah , Holland Road, just to name a few..


I don't like the ideas of using first-world countries'examples for comparison in this local town council issue. Anyway, the pappies has always said we are a different country and we CANNOT compare ourselves to other countries.

If indeed Singaporean ( not only Aljunied residents) are more dirty in our lifestyle, then it must be something wrong in our own parent responsibilities,education system or maybe our inherent "more dirty human culture". We will educate our next generation, please be patient as what the pappies have always said we are still a very young nation.

Anyway, in my personal opinion, I don't think we are that bloody dirty. Public toilets definitely need to be cleaned after so many people used it. In hawker center, plates need to be cleared by cleaner ( the authorities also don't expect the customers to clear it because there isn't any areas for you to clear your own trays ) These are few examples I highlighted, the list goes on...These are the actual living conditions in Singapore. It is the pappies who always find faults on its own people and yet sing praises on foreigners.

Frau , ich nicht bin Auslander und sprechen gute Desuche
Don't sing any more praises for the pappies. Please think first before you comment!

LOL
P.s I'm a truely born Singaporean with voting rights and paying S&C charges!

Mr Wang Says So said...

You can read an old but interesting Straits Times article here - "You Give Your Money to Your Town Council So It Can Play The Stock Market".

Anonymous said...

Quote:I prefer citizens who are active engaging as opposed to passive engaging. People should put their money (in this case, vote) where their mouth is. Unquote

1.What do you mean by active engaging and passive engaging ? Is engaging on public discussion over government policies not active engagement ? Is peaceful demonstration not active engagement ?
2.You are implying that since the pap won every election, so people should not complain. If they want to complain then they should vote against the pap.
Have you analayse why the pap was returned to power one election after another ? Are you aware of the major changes LKY and his gang made to the election rules, regulations and laws ? Are you aware that many people hated the pap but voted for them out of fear ? Are you aware that any credible opposition figure are hunted down till they are incapacited ? Are you aware that many Singaporeans never have the chance to vote ? Are you aware that those who voted for the pap form less than half of Singaporeans who are eligible to vote ? Are you aware that LKY has once publicly considered changing the one man one vote system by giving certain catergories of Singaporeans two votes ? Are you aware that LKY has publicly said that the Singapore military will move in should the pap lost in a GE. Are you aware that the pap government refuse to admit neutral internation observers to witness Singapore election ? I short I am telling you that the political election in Singapore is a sham. It is only a show put up to convince the international community that Singapore is a democracy. We know that it is not with the pap government having their hands in the administrative, judicial, police and military services. The media are totally controlled by the pap government.

geriatric_eunuch said...

fraupenguin said:

"If you see your neighbour littering and choose to keep your opinion to yourself, then really, who should be blamed? Government policies cannot make it's people civilised. Being civilised lies in the hands of every individual citizen.

Duh...rather simple logic..."



Simple logic? Or a simplistic, shallow and rather patronising comment? Anon's post above answers your condescending 'who's to be blamed' question with far more depth than you have spent championing the wonders of the PAP Eden that is S'pore.

If I'm not wrong, you speak as a 34-year old wife living the privileged expat lifestyle in Tokyo with your baby and a nice home in Germany to run off to?

And you feel that this position somehow qualifies you to accuse the Aljunied peasant, in his 3-room concrete pigeon-hole, struggling to make ends meet on $1500/month, with little hope of removing his avaricious management committee, of being a 'classic case of Singaporeans complaining all the time' and of being UNCIVILISED? Well, as they say, you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

You appear to be seriously disconnected from the reality of life for the less privileged in S'pore, if I may say so. Do feel free to laugh and remark 'Let them eat cake' when you next read that these crude, uncouth, ill-bred people lacking the brains to be 'active engaging' can no more afford bread.

Anonymous said...

silly ideas...make people angry only...

*does it mean that cleaner neighbourhoods will get discount ??

*how to justify level of dirtiness or cleaniness?? follow the stock market index ?? to top up the losses isit?? its so open to fraud...

Anonymous said...

Can the Town Councils also be described as mini Temaseks?

If this is so, can imagine how many types and numbers of them are out there. Anything that provides public service, almost monopoly, or can collect regular fees by law (regardless of business climate) and can accumulate some good surpluses to do some investments. After all, who can challenge how much they can collect or have a choice of another cheaper provider?
You know why Govt keeps downplaying their role in cost of living and inflation by conveniently saying it is external factors?

fraupenguin said...

Replying to Anonymous (May 9, 2008 11:34 PM):

You have made several very broad assumptions in your commentary. Many of which are highly inaccurate.

It is easy for people to complain with sweeping statements but difficult for them to be level headed. I am not saying everything the PAP has done is agreeable (a position which you have assumed by yourself on my behalf) but neither do i condemn everything they do. Your commentary and the assumptions that come with it seem to be rather extreme.

Quote: "your latest comment, you mentioned Japan and Germany just to justify how clean they are and how dirty Singaporean (especially in this case, Aljunied GRC residents)."

Did i mention anything about the cleaniness of Japan and Germany??? Please read again. It was about the community playing its part in keeping their environments clean, which by the way, was the whole point of my previous post if you missed it.

Quote: "You probably also not paying any single cent for S&C charges or vote in Singapore at all"

Wow! You certainly are very bold when making assumptions. Unfortunaly, you should be very dissappointed to know you are wrong (again). Discussion can only be meaningful if facts are discussed and not merely spinning tales to suit the mood-of-the-day. Trying to 'win' arguments with such methods does not make the argument more convincing.

If i had to address all the flaws in your arguments and assumptions, it would make Mr Wang a very busy man but i shall try.

Quote: "1)Are these 2 countries collected residents' money supposed for conservancy & service to invest in the share market?"

Let's focus for a moment. Like i mentioned earlier, the huge surplus monies is a different issue altogether and i had made that distinction very clearly. But for your information, you do have to pay a similar fee like those in Singapore for people to clear your rubbish and clean your stairways, passage ways etc in both countries. If you wanted to dispose off a big piece of furniture in Japan, you'd have to pay by the piece at prices ranging from anything from SGD$5 to SGD$20 depending on size, and you could only do it with prior arrangement with the local town council. The Japanese are one of the biggest consumers in the world. I'd think that the Japanese government and their respective town councils would have collected far greater proportions from "consumption tax" alone.

Quote: "2)Are you using the same scenario of living conditions , that is high rise public housing in high densely area? ( BTW if you are rich and live in a bungalow, you will not throw any thrash out of your windows , cos it will land it on your own garden or swimming pool) In Singapore, we also have very "clean people" living in Bukit Timah , Holland Road, just to name a few.."

My previous comment was about living in a civilised community so i fail to see the direct connection. To play along anyhow, are you saying that Japan and Germany do not have high rised apartments and are not densely populated? Haha! Well, unless you are referring to the country sides of Japan and Germany?

Quote: "I don't like the ideas of using first-world countries'examples for comparison in this local town council issue"

Are you saying that littering is a problem unique to only Singapore?

You seemly want to believe that i think Singapore is extremely filthy. Reminds me of an advertisement on Singapore tv where a young boy 'tries' to play tennis. His father stands beside the tennis coach and the coach tries to tell the father that his son will never be the next Roger Federer but of cos, the father only hears what he wants to hear. Selective hearing in motion when blind to the fact that his son could hardly hit a ball.


One thing you are right about though, is your comment that Singapore is a very young nation. There is simple no way to fairly compare Singapore, Germany and Japan in the same breadth when it comes to nation building. But how it develops, lies in the hands of Singaporeans. How you keep insisting that i sing praises for the PAP when all i'm saying is that how clean Singapore can be really depends on its people is beyond me. You should really read first before commenting or making all the wrong assumptions. I've said before but i'll say it again - Government policies cannot make it's people civilised. Being civilised lies in the hands of every individual citizen.

Being active engaging as opposed to passive engaging is far more meaningful. By the way, i do have voting rights and i did vote in the last election too you know ;)

Anonymous said...

I doubt if you read the Chinese Press, so here's for your info:

网民Mr Wang也在博客上引述阿裕尼市镇会的常年报告,指出它在2006/2007财政年共收取了3196万元的杂费,花在清洁的费用仅423万元,全年盈余是496万元。其他网民甚至借题发挥,主张下次大选不投人民行动党。
(from here)

fraupenguin said...

To Anonymous (May 10, 2008 12:43 PM) comment:

I wounldnt exactly call complaining online anonymously active engagement.

Quote: "Are you aware that many people hated the pap but voted for them out of fear?"

Are you saying that because of fear, Singaporeans choose to give up their democratic rights?

Quote:"Are you aware that LKY has once publicly considered changing the one man one vote system by giving certain catergories of Singaporeans two votes?"

Yes i am aware of this, and the others which you have mentioned. I dont agree with many of those things which have been done but i particularly dont agree with the one-man-two-votes idea. However, from your earlier implication that when fear and voting are in one, Singaporeans let fear get the upperhand. Therefore, i'm not very hopeful that in the event that PAP chooses to shove this down the throat of Singaporeans, much will change.

Anonymous said...

the idea is not practical to implement. however, do you realize that by paying a fixed conservancy fee for cleaning up the neighbourhood, you are already in theory subsidizing the litterbugs because they have become free riders. No matter how much they pollute or litter, they will still pay the same conservancy rate as all of the decent folk. Thus, they will have no incentive to change their behaviour.

just as mr wang suggested giving rebates. by giving rebates to certain cleaner neighbourhoods, you are also inadvertently giving rebates to any litterbugs that may be living there. it is equally unfair to decent folk be it a rebate or higher charges because of the free rider problem.

free-rider problem is not something that the government can resolve most of the time because the price of curbing this free-rider problem by ways of policy or policing is usually prohibitively high and a simple cost-benefit analysis will show that it creates even higher costs for everyone.

fraupenguin said...

Geriatric_eunuch's comments:

You appear to disagree that being civilised lies in the hands of the individual. If this is the case, then whose responsibility is it? Is it solely that of every government to make it's people civilised?


I dont think the great leaders of the past single handedly made it's people civilised. Likewise, i dont think LKY single handedly made Singapore. And i doubt very much when Switzerland passed it's 40th birthday way back then, they were any cleaner than Singapore today.

If you hated your boss to the core, am victimised everyday of your working life in the office, treated like a nobody and trampled upon like a ant, would you try very hard to change your situation?

I had a colleague once. Let's call her 'A'. She was always paying for the meals of another colleague. Let's call this colleague 'B'. B was sponging off A and this went on for 6 whole months. A complained to everyone and anyone who would listen that B always had excuses of not paying during lunch (eg. forgot wallet, no small change etc). But A didnt have what it took to be firm and ask B back for the money...

fraupenguin said...

Just the other day, i walked pass the Myanmar Embassy. There was a big protest outside of the embassy. The police were everywhere.

I couldnt help but wonder, if such a thing would ever take place in Singapore. And i dont mean protests held by the political opposition parties. I mean the common man on the street; to borrow geriatric_eunuch's words - people like the "Aljunied peasant".

Mr Wang Says So said...

I find this discussion quite amusing.

Whether Singaporeans are civic-conscious or not is clearly not the real point.

The residents of Aljunied may be extremely civic-conscious; or they may be moderately so; or they may be very lacking in civic consciousness.

Whatever the case may be, it is not right for the town council to raise conservancy fees, when it is already charging more than it actually needs to cover its cleaning costs.

Herrtoucan said...

fraupenguin

"I couldnt help but wonder, if such a thing would ever take place in Singapore"

Have faith in your fellow Singaporeans (if you are a Singaporean).

If the well-beings of Singaporeans are reasonably taken care off either by their own capacity (for those who are able) or that their capacities (for those who may not be so able) are not unduly affected by certain policies which may create even more problems than their intended purposes, I doubt protests will be necessary.

Protests may be disruptive & costly and only people who are being affected seriously will conduct it. If nice & simple communication is able to do the work, noisy protests will not be necessary.

"I wounldnt exactly call complaining online anonymously active engagement."

Do you think your use of pseudonym "fraupenguin" anonymous.

fraupenguin said...

To geriatric_eunuch:

Regarding your assumption of my privileged life it's amusing. Unfortunately, you should be very disappointed to know that i've never been and still am not all that priviliged at all by mainstream Singapore standards.

I had to slogged it out in the workforce when i was just 16 and had to survive on a $540 salary living on my own. I had to pay my own way for education and i've never had a maid in my entire life unlike many "priviliged" Singaporeans - i just couldnt afford it. Neither do i live in a big house and no, i do not have "a nice home in Germany to run off to". That's a nice thought though but i doubt it'll ever get to that.

Perhaps my poor cousin - the Aljunied peasant - is better off with their $1500 today than i was with $540 back then.

Just a day in the life of an ordinary Singapore peasant...

fraupenguin said...

Herrtoucan said..."Do you think your use of seudonym "fraupenguin" anonymous"

This was in reply to the comment that engaging on public discussion over government policies on the internet anonymously is classified as active engagement. I'd call that passive engagement. And this was in reply to another comment even earlier regarding engaging vs passive citizens. Maybe some information was lost in along the way. A good example of an active engaging Singapore citizen would be Alfian Saat.

Many here declare that they have been ill-treated and judging from many of the comments here, i'd think it was serious. Perhaps i was wrong?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Readers are welcome to continue this discussion over here (a related post).

Anonymous said...

George says:

We have a thriving industry here. Entirely, govt initiated and owned - The Fairy Tales Industry.

Anonymous said...

Frau Penguin aka Mrs Penguin:
I don't agree at all on all your comments pertaining to this blog's subject.

1)You mentioned civilised society. We are not civilised society over here. As what MM had said he will not be able to see a civilised society in Singapore in his lifetime, therefore , what civilised society you are talking about. Reported recently that British is getting more rude than in the past, in fact i used this example cos MM had said in the past he respects the British during his study days there. Therefore, in every society there won't have such thing as civilised society getting better by day of nation building. It may get WORSE. ( if you want to talk more about civilised society, wait for Mr Wang to put a post, maybe titled "Will there ever be a civilised Singapore".

2) You mentioned active /passive citizenry participation. I think this is also irrelevant to this blog's subject.

Come back solely for this blog subject:
1)You have not answered whether in the other 2 countries mentioned collected resident's S&C money to invest in the share market.
2)You mentioned in Japan , the resident pays for removal of large furniture. Many Singaporean do pay "kopi" money to town council workers to clear huge furniture when they need to. We sometime reward them "angpow" during Chinese New Year. I agreed some just simply discard at the foot of the void deck which is nothing illegal There are also signboard usually beside the rubbish chute to permit resident to place huge cupboard/sofa,other huge furniture there .. I definitely agreed disposing a huge furniture at the stair-case or blocked escape route is very irresponsible which is also a safety hazard - of course this is something to do with "civilised people or not" or maybe to a lesser extend resident is not safety-conscious enough - this point is also not relevant for this blog's discussion

The key point here is all about putting cleanliness indices, increase S&C fee collection (they may say lower fee if your block is cleaner , I don't believe what the pappies said nowadays) , therefore we should focus on the following
1)As a matter of principle ,whether using the resident's money for share investment is right or absurd.
2) The amount of money they spent for cleaning job.
3)The kind of cleaner town council employed, in other words, their productivity.
4) Why Aljunied GRC being mentioned?
5)The huge sinking fund or reserves..

Anonymous said...

Quote:Are you saying that because of fear, Singaporeans choose to give up their democratic rights?Unquote.

How to give up something which is not there ? Voting out of fear is similar to doing things against your will with a gun pointed on your temper.
This is the basic underlying causes of lots of the social and other problems in Singapore. The pap government is very vigilant to ensure that Singaporeans are enslaved so that they can pursue their extremely harsh policies without jeopadising their hold on power. From LKY's perspective such policies are necessary for the long term survival and viability of Singapore. This remains to be seen. However these policies (like open door welcome to foreingers and stashing of huge reserves away) are hurting current generation of Singaporeans. LKY will like his legacy to last forever but to Singaporeans who are struggling now the future is meaningless.