Have just finished a 3 part series “Black Mirror” that sets you thinking how social media and advance technology have affected our lifes. I have to agree that in some way, we have lost our senses and freedom in the pursuit of never ending modern technology.

The first episode talks about the power and influence of social media (which I personally like most).

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The second episode talks about the senseless action of paying for virtual stuff.

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The third episode makes us think if it is really a good thing to record our life on virtual memory (I thought of facebook where everyone is recording where we go, what we do complete with photos and timeline) and we are able to replay these memories over and over again.

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I kind of understand why the title is called Black Mirror now (I thought it’s a horror show initially). Think it’s because the screen of our PC, Ipad, smartphones when off is black in colour and we can see a reflection of ourselves?

It’s been a while since I watched a really good drama, highly recommended! (You can preview the trailers at Youtube).

Enjoy!

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A canadian has written a letter to our local press commending the efforts put in by Singapore govt to make sure our rubbish are cleared everyday at $40 per household per month and upgrading our lifts so that they stop at every level in our HDB flats.

However, does the writer know that our government is not the one clearing our rubbish and upgrading the lifts? These jobs are outsourced to third party contractors at a fee. Lift upgrading is NOT free and each household has to pay $2k-$2.5k to have the lift stop at every level.

It is not fair to compare Singapore with US or Canada because we are staying in HDB flats whereas most US and Canadian citizens are staying in landed properties. Assuming there are 150 households in a HDB flat, this means a monthly rubbish collecting fee of $6k per block and if there are 10 blocks in the same vicinity, this works out to a revenue of $60k per month! And the lift upgrading revenue works out to be $300k-$375k per block! If there is money to be made, definitely there will be companies wanting to clear our rubbish and upgrade our lifts? Those flats that require lift upgrading are generally the older flats built more than 20-30 years ago and the new flats built nowadays all come with lifts stopping at every level. Of course, the lift costs have already been incorporated in the selling price of the new flats and the price that we pay for a HDB flat in Singapore can actually pay for a landed property in the US or Canada. This is how expensive Singapore HDB flats are (if the writer does not know that)!

The rubbish collecting fees in US and Canada are higher per household simply because there’s no economies of scale if rubbish trucks have to travel a distance to collect rubbish from each household. In a HDB flat, rubbish of 150 households are collected at the same place. Furthermore, rubbish is not collected on a daily basis, contrary to what the writer believes.

The writer also claims that if Singapore citizens are unable to pay their HDB home mortgage, they will not be turfed out and left homeless. Well, this depends on whether the home mortgage is from HDB or banks. If it is from the banks, the banks can still re-possess the house and have it auction off to pay off the mortgage. In fact HDB has been reducing it’s home mortgage loan over the years by letting home owners decide who they want to get the mortgage from. It is known that HDB mortgage loan rates is higher and not as attractive as the banks, hence more home owners have opted to finance their home purchase from banks. This means that more home owners now risk having their homes re-possessed if they cannot meet the loan obligations. And note that only a HDB flat (which is in fact public housing) purchase financed by a HDB mortgage loan has a lower risk of re-possession in times when loan obligations are not met. Other non HDB home purchases are 100% financed by banks and hence can be re-possessed by banks if loan obligations are not met, just like anywhere else in the world.

Overall, I don’t think the comparison is fair or valid (the writer is not comparing apple to apple) or the Singapore govt has done a really good job in these areas since we paid for the rubbish collection, lift upgrading/new lifts and higher interest rates on HDB mortgage loan.

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Was trying to get a cab yesterday at MBS taxi stand around 3am and a black cab approached when it was my turn at the taxi queue.

I have heard that the black cab fares are higher than normal taxis but had thought that only the starting meter charge is slightly higher (by $2) and the meter jumping faster? Boy, I was WRONG!

The taxi driver wants to charge me $12 PLUS meter charges! There is no problem getting cabs at that time and even if there is, booking a normal cab only cost an extra $2.50, not $12!! I wonder who will take the black cabs since there is nothing different between these cabs and the other cabs, not that it can fly and hence I can reach my destination faster?! Even Mercedes cabs are charging normal fares.

So I took the next Comfort taxi in the queue and the fare to reach my house was only $7+ but I’m happy to give the taxi driver $10 without change! If I took the black cab, the fare can end up $20+!

I wonder is it legal for taxis in Singapore to charge a fee, which can be any amount, on top of the meter charges?

And for sure, I will NEVER board a black cab in my life!!

Black Cabs Causing Jam At Changi Airport Taxi Queue

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Famous fashion designer Roland Mouret commented that Singaporean fashion sense are “shocking” when he was in town lately. Roland Mouret, who has been dressing up women impeccably for years, seems to be referring to mainly Singaporean men. See below link.

Is Singapore Fashion Really That Bad?

The hot weather has been blamed for the sloppy dress sense where Singaporeans, especially the men are wearing the wrong shorts and flip flops.

Now, I think we should not blame the weather totally as we can still dress casual yet stylist and I do agree that some Singaporean men, mostly the middle age ones are the worst dressed. This is even so if they do not care much about their looks (face, body and hair). These men just do not seem to care about their appearance at all anymore.

These men may argue that they neither have the time nor budget to look stylist but to me, these are just excuses. Looking good is not just about wearing expensive designer clothes, it’s about personal grooming from head to toe! Quoting a famous quote “there are no ugly women, just lazy women”, it is only fair if this also applies to the men? But how much time does a man need to look good as compared to a woman? Considering that a woman needs to put on makeup and style her long hair (for most women) before going out and remove makeup once back home followed by a rigourous skincare regime daily? I do not think men needs to spend as much time and money as women to look good really.

If a man is well groomed, most likely whatever he wears will looks good on him even if these are not branded (of course he must still have some basic fashion sense lah!). If a man looks sloppy, whatever he wears will look sloppy on him even if these are branded! As we can see, it does make a difference on how the two guys looked wearing the same white singlet in the pic.

Of course not all Singaporean men look bad, I am only referring to a fraction that do not care about their appearance. There are really well groomed and good looking ones too but it has been observed that most men tend to heck care as they grew older. Unlike men, we women tend to make even more effort to look good as we grew older.

Maybe that is the reason why more older women chose to be with someone younger and younger men do not mind having older girlfriends since you can’t really tell the age gap from their looks nowadays anyway!

Researchers had asked this question involving 1001 Singapore-born citizens and 1000 foreign-born naturalised citizens. The results? 69% of Singapore-born citizens agreed that it was a key factor that determined “Singaporeaness” whereas only 43% of foreign-born naturalised citizens surveyed agreed. The study also found that citizens in the study who were less receptive and inclusive are better educated, and live in bigger and more expensive housing.

At a parent’s point of view, I truly understand why foreign-born naturalised citizens do not want their sons to go through the hardship of National Service (especially the higher educated and richer ones) but then again, I believed Singapore-born citizens also do not want the same for their sons. But Singapore-born citizens do not have a choice because NS is mandatory to all men unless they are proven to be unfit medically. So why do foreign-born naturalised citizens have the privilege to be exempted from NS (unfair)?

I am not sure how many new immigrants are converted to citizens every year but assuming that the figure is quite significant (since the influx of immigrants are in millions over these years), it seem insufficient and imbalance to have just Singapore-born citizens’ sons to serve NS, protect our country and people? Don’t forget they have to protect the additional foreign-born naturalised citizens and their sons too.

By exempting from NS, it also means the foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons are able to start their tertiary education and work life earlier as compared to our Singapore-born citizens’ sons who have to serve NS for two years. Our Singapore-born citizens’ sons lose their competitiveness against the foreign-born citizens’ sons (as they are lagging behind) because they took up the duty to protect our country and people (which includes the foreign-born naturalised citizens)! Isn’t this ironic?

So in my opinion, if it is mandatory for Singapore-born citizens’ sons to serve NS, the same should apply to foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons as they are also Singaporeans (in substance) who have a duty to protect the country and it’s people (including their own family here in Singapore).

How do we make this workable?

It is not compulsory now for foreign-born naturalised citizens to convert their young children into Singapore citizens (if they were born overseas before their parents became Singapore citizens). Maybe we should have this criteria included when parents want to take up Singapore citizenship. We can make this criteria compulsory for children below 18 years old who are not of a legal age yet and have relocated to Singapore together with their parents. Anyway, these children who will be brought up and educated in Singapore should feel more Singaporean than being a citizen of the country they are born in? These foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons who became Singapore citizens together with their parents will then have to serve NS together with our Singapore-born citizens’ sons.

Some immigrants may wait till their sons pass 18 years of age (to avoid having to serve NS) before taking up Singapore citizenship but this will also mean they do not enjoy the benefits of holding a Singapore citizenship earlier. It’s a lose-lose situation here so I believe no one will want to do this.

PRs are not mentioned here because they still hold a foreign citizenship and therefore not considered Singapore citizens, and PRs do not enjoy the same benefits as Singapore citizens. It will be difficult to enforce mandatory NS on PRs since they can easily give up their PR status and return to the country where they hold citizenship. But it is not easy to renounce existing citizenship and apply for a new citizenship elsewhere. So there must be a distinguished difference between the benefits of a holding PR and a Singapore citizenship to attract more immigrants to take up citizenships.

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Came across a mass recruitment ad from NTUC Fairprice looking for cashiers, storemen, sales promoters and fish cutters from China to work in Singapore.

Looking at the salary and benefits provided, it seems like a good deal. Apart from a reasonable pay, the employee receive a $200 monthly housing allowance and 14 days annual leave (which is similar to an executive)!

The Singapore government has been encouraging senior citizens to continue working beyond retirement age and the lower educated workers to upgrade their skills so why are priorities not given to them? See link: NTUC U Portal – Re-employment of older workers

I believed trainings will be given to the chinese candidates before they come over to Singapore to work, then why can’t we train the lower educated local citizens to fit into the jobs? The lower educated workers are constantly encouraged to upgrade their skills but how can they do that if employers do not give them a chance?

Furthermore, isn’t NTUC a government related body and hence should take care of local citizens first? Singapore government has been asking organisations to give job priorities to local citizens but did they practice what they preach?

NTUC Fairprice may argue that no Singaporeans want to be cashiers, storemen, sales promoters and fish cutters but this reason sound weak. These jobs are not the typical tough (physical) and dirty jobs that locals shunned. And indeed, NTUC’s response to the mass recruitment in China is because they could not fill these positions in Singapore!? See link: NTUC’s response to the mass recruitment ad in China

Is this what we call “Say One Thing, Do Another Thing”?