Police investigating toppled Singapore flags

From ‘Singapore flags felled in Ang Mo Kio’, 10 Aug 2014, article in Today.

An act of mischief ruined National Day decorations at an HDB estate in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 today (Aug 10).

Town council workers had put up Singapore flags in the build-up to the celebrations. On Sunday morning, it was discovered that several flags had been felled. Police officers were seen clearing up the damage when our reporter got to the scene at about 2pm. Town council workers were also seen putting up new flags. They said the flag poles were broken but there was no damage to the flags.

Flag down

Flag down

Oh dear God, there’s a flagpole chopper on the loose! Quick apprehend the vandals before more Singapore flags are felled. Our 49th birthday post-NDP celebrations depend on it! This foul deed is as despicable as someone peeing all over our Cenotaph, or decapitating Sir Stamford Raffles’ statue, dammit.

Since we’re doing the policing and stuff, we should also round up anyone who has the audacity to allow the Singapore flag to touch the filthy ground. Like the perpetrators behind this brutal act of flag dumping below, leaving a sad pile of bleeding flag corpses, innards wrenched and spilled, outside a disgusting rubbish chute. I can’t get this ghastly image out of my head. The horror!

BASTARDS!

Even the hand-held flags are not spared. Look at how these two innocent flags are tossed among random filth near a lift. It’s as heartbreaking as seeing children lying broken and lifeless in a corner after a gangrape. I don’t want to live on this earth anymore.

DAMN MURDERERS!

How dare you also allow the flag to stand on a grass patch and lean against some bushes? Would you make Jesus stand on broken glass? This is so, so cruel.

TORTURERS!

What about bringing Li Jiawei to justice? At the Beijing Olympics representing Singapore she, the FLAGBEARER, was spotted dragging the flag all over the ground. WHERE IS SHE NOW (back home in China probably)? Get Interpol on the case for Christ’s sake!

NOOOOOOOOOO!

And don’t think that if you’re a celebrated playwright you could get away with flag assault. In Cook a Pot of Curry, a Wild Rice play, the producers allowed the flag to be dropped on stage while the actors were singing the National Anthem. This is INHUMANE. It’s like dropping a baby from a height sufficient to not just paralyse for life, but KILL. Curse you Arts people! Someone should send the cops down to your houses to search for flagpole-destroying parangs, axes or chainsaws!

It is truly an unspeakable crime, and I will remember this 49th National Day as the day someone hacked my country, my dreams, my home, down to the ground. God Save Singapore.

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Woman peeing in Pinnacle@Duxton lift

From ‘Caught in the act of urinating in Pinnacle@Duxton lift’, 18 June 2014, article by Hoe Pei Shan, ST

The first photo shows the back of a woman in neat attire squatting down in a lift; the second shows the same woman, her hair tied up in a ponytail, in the same spot, but this time with a puddle near her feet in the lift. The photos were featured in posters put up this week by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council in the void deck of Block 1E at Pinnacle@Duxton, following complaints about urine in one of the lifts back in May.

The youthful-looking woman, whose face is not seen, was caught in the act by surveillance cameras in the lift at 8.22pm on May 23.

“The Town Council has received feedback regarding the stench of urine in the Fireman Lift in Blk 1E… This has caused much inconvenience to residents,” read the message in the poster. The posters and photos are part of what MP Lily Neo (Tanjong Pagar GRC) describes as the town council’s “very effective” method of addressing such incidents, and have been employed several times at the Pinnacle@Duxton estate as well as elsewhere in the constituency.

…”We would never show people’s faces in the photos used, so only the person committing the act would know it is him or her,” she said. “We’re not trying to shame anybody, we put the posters up only in the affected blocks. Our job is not to make trouble, we just want to stop the urination problem.”

No one has stepped forward so far regarding the latest incident, and little is known about the woman pictured. “Urination in public places still happens from time to time in different areas around Tanjong Pagar, but thankfully it’s not that prevalent,” said Dr Neo.

This iconic housing project was indeed once the PINNACLE of international design, the first in the world with 2 skybridges linking the 7 blocks, creating what could be the LONGEST continuous skygardens in the world. A winner of the 2010 President’s Design Award, the Pinnacle’s skydecks have been described as ‘social dynamos’ encouraging communal activities, initiating an ‘innovative typology of public communal spaces that are metaphorically reclaimed from the air.’ A bit TOO communal perhaps. This, like how we deal with most social nuisances, calls for a CAMPAIGN, before someone brands the building The ‘Pee-nacle’ (Wait, that has already happened). The mascot could be a singing, dancing giant incontinence pad, one who goes around smothering people before they even unzip their trousers.

Peeing in lifts is a scourge that won’t go away soon, with exploding bladders, loose sphincters, alcohol and lack of public toilets often used as mitigation pleas when culprits do get caught. Most of these, to no one’s surprise, are men. In 1988, the ST ran a survey which revealed that of 112 pissers caught, ONLY ONE was a woman, and they were mostly adults within the age range of 36 to 54. These days, people seem to get away with urinating in lifts without having the media shout their name, age and occupations like they used to. An anonymous offender smearing a public amenity gets away with nothing more than embarrassment, while a blogger who smears the name of someone very illustrious gets hunted down and sued his pants off for defamation. Even getting caught EATING a damn sweet on the train is a worse situation than this.

You must be truly desperate if you’re a woman and need to resort to 1)pulling down/aside your underwear 2) squatting 3) answering the call of nature 4) risk soaking your damn feet while at it. No one seems to ever get remanded in IMH for such behaviour, especially one that has been fetishised by the authorities since Singaporeans began living in HDBs, with some MPs in the 80’s even suggesting a JAIL TERM for offenders. Peeing in a lift is an entirely different breed of public disgrace compared to say dumping litter or throwing cigarette butts out of cars. A grown adult urinating in a closed, moving compartment, especially one in which you have to eventually use yourself, seems to me more of a bizarre psychological disorder rather than a case of uncontrollable nerves, mischief, or even ‘vandalism’. It’s like vomiting on the side of your plate, and then continuing to eat the rest of your food like nothing happened.

The Pinnacle may boast one of the most panoramic, expensive residential skygardens in the world, but all the lifestyle frills and pledges of ‘sustainability’ aside, one thing that the building appears to be sorely lacking is a basic lift URINE DETECTOR, a gadget that stops the lift dead when someone takes a leak on the floor, sounds an alarm, and traps you inside until the cops come and whisk you and your vile bladder to court. A brilliant invention because it forces you to be confined with your own putrid stench for at least a good half an hour, and more importantly, catches you red-handed, with or without CCTV. Have we gone all soft on lift pissers lately? Will the Pinnacle management take more serious measures only when MP Lily Neo steps on a golden puddle during her walkbouts like what happened to former Speaker Tan Soo Khoon in 1991?

Urine detectors can’t do anything to prevent one from DEFECATING in the lift, though. Yes, it happens, I shit you not.

UDDs will give residents a piss of mind

Wikipedia ‘vandal’ calling the PAP a fascist regime

From ‘Vicious edits to PAP’s Wikipedia page’, 13 June 2013, article by Hoe Pei Shan, ST

A People’s Action Party MP called on his organisation to consider legal action yesterday after “vicious” edits were made to its Wikipedia page. Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng spoke out after a user of the website changed the name of the party to “Party Against People” and added lines such as “down with the fascists” and “vote for Opposition” into the text.

According to the page’s publicly available editing history, the user who first made the changes appeared to have done so on Wednesday afternoon under the name “AlikVesilev”.

The user claimed that “proof of (the PAP’s) suppression of freedom of speech” was demonstrated by the sacking of blogger Roy Ngerng by Tan Tock Seng Hospital this week, a move later backed by the Ministry of Health.

Human rights group Maruah thought that Roy’s dismissal and the subsequent endorsement by MOH was handled poorly, symptomatic of the high-handed, remorseless manner in which the PAP and its underlings deal with dissenters. ‘AlikVesilev’ also praised socialism and went ‘URA!’ in his rant, which I’m guessing refers to a Soviet battle cry for ‘Hooray’ (Most definitely not the ‘Urban Redevelopment Authority’).

If nothing happens to this wiki ‘vandal’ after his ‘vicious’ attack, Roy would be hitting himself on the head for not having exploited the CPF Wikipedia page instead to get his message across, now that he’s facing an insurmountable defamation suit and currently jobless. But this isn’t the first time that the PAP’s hardcore style of punishment and intolerance for ‘free speech’ have been compared to ‘fascism’.

1963: The Barisan Socialis invoked ‘fascist repression’ when the PAP revoked citizenship for political detainees, accusing the party of ‘abusing power’ to unjustly punish anyone opposed to the regime. A familiar routine that anyone that has been cast away in political exile, or fired from a job because he impugned the integrity and character of our great leader, can relate to.

1964: V David from the Socialist Front, KL, referred to the PAP governance as a ‘reign of terror’ and ‘a fascist dictatorship’.

1971: A bunch of Malaysian and Singaporean students staged a demonstration against ‘fascist Lee Kuan Yew’ in London’s Hyde Park, burning an effigy of the PM. The ST referred to them as ‘radicals’.

1976: The United People’s Front leader Harbans Singh blamed the inequality between the rich and the poor on the ‘parasitic’ fascist regime that is the PAP. He was later hauled up to court for making scurrilous remarks about LKY being a ‘scoundrel’ and ‘gangster’ from the way the blunt tool that is the ISA was being implemented.

1977: Detainee Ho Kwon Ping was accused of portraying the PAP as an ‘elitist, racialist, fascist, oppressive and dictatorial’ government in an article for the Far Eastern Economic Review, which he allegedly used as a platform to channel his ‘pro-Red’ sentiments. He later became the founder of Banyan Tree and now a successful millionaire. Some jailtime may be good for you after all.

2006: John Burton of the Financial Times wrote about the uncanny similarity between the PAP’s lightning logo and that of the British Union of Facists (BUF). According to the writer, LKY admitted a ‘design influence’ from the fascist symbol. Apart from the logo, the other stark difference between the BUF’s Blackshirts and our current PAP mould would be the colour of their uniforms.

Fascist logo, or insignia of the Flash?

2013: DJ X’Ho calls us a ‘hushed’ fascist state, that we may well be the ‘unproclaimed fascist capital of the world’ but wouldn’t admit it.

High-handed brutality aside, most of us don’t have sexual fantasies about our glorious leaders, nor do we worship them as war heroes, man-gods or sing songs of total party devotion and then weep in ecstasy like how they do in a megachurch or a pure fascist state. According to a list of ‘defining characteristics‘ by a certain Dr Lawrence Britt, there are examples of ‘fascist’ elements in almost every modern government you can think of, not just Singapore, among which include:

1. Disdain for Recognition of Human Rights: Anti-gay laws, the ISD’s detention without trial.

2. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: ‘Self-radicalised’ individuals, ‘CPF bloggers’, disgraced Opposition leaders.

3. Supremacy of the Military: Last year’s defence spending was $12 BILLION.

4. Rampant Sexism: Our cabinet ministers are all male. Not many female boardroom members in corporations.

5. Controlled Mass Media: ST, hello? Crackdown on ‘seditious’ Facebook posts, defamatory blogs. Censorship of political films, movies about gay sex, threesomes or zany plots about the assassination of Malaysian Prime Ministers.

6. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Death penalties, caning, and ‘enhanced’ powers of the Police in Little India.

One may think of fascist governance as a continuous spectrum, just like how we all lie in the emotional range from ‘super nice’ to ‘psychopath’.  The PAP, as our PM once admitted himself, is in fact a ‘Paranoid’ government, one that ‘worries’ all the time. In other words, one that is constantly in FEAR of things not going their way. I would put that nearer to the psychopath end of the spectrum.

 

PM Lee rejecting Roy Ngerng’s derisory $5000 offer

From ‘PM Lee rejects blogger’s offer of $5000 as damages’, 27 May 2014, article by Nur Asiyiqin Mohammed Salleh, ST Singpolitics

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has rejected blogger Roy Ngerng’s offer of $5,000 as damages, his lawyer Davinder Singh said in a letter to Mr Ngerng’s lawyer on Tuesday. This offer is “derisory” and “completely disregards” the gravity of Mr Ngerng’s conduct, the undisputed fact that the libel – that PM Lee misapproriated CPF funds – is false and malicious, and Mr Ngerng’s “calculated and systematic aggravation of the injury and distress” to Mr Lee, Mr Singh wrote.

…Mr Lee had on Monday offered to waive aggravated damages if Mr Ngerng removed four blog posts and a Youtube video and undertook not to publish similar posts or videos. Mr Ngerng agreed. But instead of removing the video, Mr Ngerng made it private. He also sent two e-mails out republishing the video and offending posts.

“He therefore has only himself to blame for losing the opportunity of not having to pay aggravated damages,” said Mr Singh.

Channel 8 news tweeted an image of Davinder Singh’s retort to the measly $5ooo offer, and surprisingly, I was able to understand most of the ‘legalese’ in the letter. Judging by Roy’s behaviour it looks like it won’t be the last we see of such letters and requests for ‘service of process’. The saga has dragged on for far longer than necessary, with ‘lost opportunities’ on both sides to settle their differences in a more palatable manner other than one dominant party simply asking for more money from the other.

Here’s some choice selections from the latest salvo, a masterclass in defamation suit demands written with the panache of an executioner sharpening his blade before chopping someone’s head clean off.  You can even use this as a template when a restaurant owner offers you free dessert after a waiter spills hot coffee all over you, that it’s a ‘derisory’ compensation for the ‘injury and distress’ that you’ve suffered, completely ‘disregarding the gravity’ of your situation.

1. ‘Derisory and completely disregards the gravity of your client’s conduct’.

Meaning the 5K is an insult and I spit on your ridiculous offer. The next logical question to Davinder would be, so how much do you want then. Is there a market rate for ‘damages’? How much higher do I need to bid before ‘derisory’ becomes ‘acceptable’? I expected Roy to come up with less in fact, and maybe top up the remainder of damages with a thousand kowtows.

2. ‘The undisputed fact that the libel is false and malicious’.

Legalese 101: Libel is any defamation that can be seen, such as writing, printing, effigy or statue. Slander is any defamation that is spoken and heard. If Roy had reserved his misappropriation accusations for his Return my CPF protest, it would have been slander, though I’m not sure which of the two is more serious. The word ‘undisputed’ is used twice in the letter by the way, a word one would usually hear in the context of a boxing championship match, though it’s obvious who’s the one getting bruised up the most here.

3. ‘He therefore only has himself to blame of losing the opportunity of not having to pay aggravated damages’.

In short, Roy asked for it. Instead of restraining himself and keeping a low profile, he allegedly circulated the ‘deleted’ posts to ‘local and international’ media. Obviously, the phrase ‘live to fight another day’ doesn’t mean anything to Roy. What was he trying to achieve with the leaking? Get support from the Queen’s Counsel?

4. ‘Your client’s explanation..that it was a momentary lapse of judgement is disingenuous and incredible’

Disingenuous is a bombastic word that only became popular when Spellcheck spared us all the burden of having to spell ‘-nuous’ correctly. It’s best used when you want to accuse someone of dishonesty but want to lord over him while at it, like ‘Take that! I just used a big word on you’. It’s also an accusation that is unlikely to get a comeback because the recipient will be wondering what you meant, and will have trouble finding a response that has more letters in it.

5. ‘He has also not come clean with you…did not disclose to you that he intended to renege on that undertaking’

i.e Roy lied to you M. Ravi. Renege is another word people don’t usually say in real life. It sounds too French for something that’s not actually food.

So the stakes have been raised. Place your bets for what PM Lee will finally accept as a decent offer for his suffering. I’m thinking somewhere in the region of $25K, which can probably cover half our Government’s standard donation to our Indonesian neighbours after a massive earthquake.

UPDATE: Roy has been fired from TTSH for misusing hospital resources for his personal stuff, namely fighting a losing battle against PM Lee. The other reason was that he did not conduct himself ‘honorably’ and with ‘integrity’ in his legal dealings with his accuser. He’s not helping matters by alleging that the sacking was ‘politically motivated’. Roy, is one defamation suit not enough?

Clarke Quay bus stops vandalised by CPF blogger fans

From ‘Clarke Quay bus stop vandalism under probe’, 25 May 2014, article by Hoe Pei Shan, Sunday Times

The police are investigating a string of vandalism acts by apparent supporters of blogger Roy Ngerng, who was last week served a letter of demand for a post on May 15 alleging that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings. Mr Ngerng apologised to PM Lee last Friday, and admitted that the allegation in his May 15 post is false and “completely without foundation”.

He added: “I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.” On the same day, information and advertising boards at several bus stops around Clarke Quay were found defaced with text such as “We support CPF blogger” and “Return CPF money” in black block letters, according to a report in The New Paper yesterday.

Yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) confirmed that graffiti was found at six bus stops, one of which was right outside the Old Hill Street Police Station. The police confirmed that a report was lodged early last Friday. It is understood that LTA contractors were dispatched by mid-afternoon to clean up the affected areas.

…Moulmein-Kallang GRC Member of Parliament Denise Phua condemned the acts which occurred in her ward and called for common sense to prevail. “Such forms of negative expression are not useful in helping Roy Ngerng’s current situation or addressing the deeper issues concerning CPF withdrawal,” she said.

“The issue calls for a rational, deeper and more constructive dialogue.”

The writing's on the wall

The writing’s on the wall

This is what’s going to happen before any ‘constructive dialogue’ takes place. The vandals will be caught, named and shamed. Roy Ngerng will be forced into paying PM Lee a certain sum of money, probably to the tune of the minimum CPF withdrawal sum. The Old Hill Street Police staff will be chastised for this embarrassment happening right under their nose (I wonder if the ‘Old Hill Street’ Division still wears shorts). And if there’s anyone who’s going to start the ball of ‘CPF conversation’ rolling, it will NOT be Denise Phua, PM Lee, the Minister of Finance, M Ravi, or even the CPF itself. Workers’ Party MPs, yes we’re looking at you.

In 2011, Gerald Giam wrote in his blog that the ‘real reason’ for raising the draw-down age for your CPF to 65 years was that the PAP does not want to have the burden of looking after our old folks if they run out of retirement savings, that this was, in Giam’s opinion, typical of the Government’s ‘calculating and heartless’ style. In a ST poll on the raised limit, more than FOUR IN FIVE Singaporeans opposed the move, believing that we should have the right to enjoy our money without the Government telling us exactly when the time is ‘ripe’.  Lim Boon Heng recently suggested that the retirement go up to 70 years of age, which follows that you should only get to smell your money when you’re in a wheelchair with a tube sticking out of your nose, and instead of spending your CPF payout on a well deserved holiday it’d be on adult diapers  and bedpans.  Lim Swee Say also attempted to dispel the notion that the CPF is something we ‘can see, but cannot touch’. With such unfounded confidence in our employability, longevity and that the world will not end in 50 years, CPF will not just be known as a ‘Cardio Pulmonary Failure’ fund anymore, but a ‘Coffin Purchase Fund’, or Cash Prior to Funeral.

As for the vandals, given the insane risk taken in light of recent events i.e the Toa Payoh vandalism, it would have been smarter to just spray paint a succinct CPF O$P$, than what appears to be an essay in graffiti terms, the handwriting giving the Police a convenient lead in their pursuit.  The mainstream media will also make every attempt to squeeze the villain out of the culprits to distract from people making an underdog hero-victim out of Roy Ngerng. We will be embroiled in discussions over whether Roy or the vandals are considered troublemakers or martyrs. So, no there will not be a ‘dialogue’ anytime soon. The CPF minimum sum will still rise, ‘adjusted for inflation’, and our Government will continue to believe that they’re the best people to manage our retirement money, or what most of us call the ‘fruits of our labour’. Forbidden fruits rather, whose sweetness most of us can only savour in bits and pieces. If our sense of taste is still intact by the time we even get it, that is.

Roy himself has created a video to raise awareness about his plight and the tragi-comedy that is the CPF issue. Other than the fact that he speaks better than most MPs, especially Lim Swee Say, here are some takeaway highlights from ‘Roy’s Message’.

1. His surname is pronounced ‘NERNG’, the first G is silent.

2. Yes we all know he’s an ‘ordinary Singaporean’. He mentions it at least 3 times. Not if he’s made a bankrupt, in which case he joins the ranks of ‘not so ordinary’ Singaporeans like JBJ and Chee Soon Juan.

3. Near the end we see Roy fighting back tears and calling his fight a sacrifice for the people of Singapore, that it doesn’t matter if his character is ‘assassinated’, as long as people continue to demand the right to know what’s being done to their money. It would have made a rousing campaign oratory.

4. If this guy had a film biography made about him, I can only picture Pierre Png playing the lead role. Director Martyn See may be interested.

5. No, there was no hidden ‘gay agenda’ that certain ministers may use against him.

When it comes to money, it’s easy to dispense to the common man what the Government would call ‘populist’-speak, and Roy is convincing in his recurrent ‘David vs Goliath’ theme, appealing to the same lower reptilian brain that irrationally views a discounted price of $1.99 as a must-buy bargain even if the product totally useless. Good luck, ‘Rob’ Roy. And I hope your dreams, our dreams, for a better CPF system come true when I’m 64.

UPDATE: Roy has been asked to remove another 4 articles, including the Youtube video, which he uploaded between May 20-24, his apology deemed to be ‘insincere’ according to PM Lee and his lawyer, when Roy had already explained that he did not apologise for stuff he’d written other than the CHC analogy. No explanations were given as to whether these posts were also defamatory or Roy had inevitably incurred further charges for ‘renewing his attack’ on the PM and aggravating ‘injury and distress’.

So distressed was our PM that he posted this emo pic on Twitter.

Lesson learnt for all bloggers: You can’t win. Apologise, pay up and stay off the Internet for a month. Give the impression that you’ve left the blogosphere to repent for your sins, even if you still think you did nothing wrong.

UPDATE 2: A 71 year old man was arrested on suspicion of being Roy Ngerng’s No. 1 fan. Wonder if he managed to make full use of his CPF monies. Meanwhile the whereabouts of the hooligans who recently vandalised a MRT train remain unknown.

 

The police are investigating a string of vandalism acts by apparent supporters of blogger Roy Ngerng, who was last week served a letter of demand for a post on May 15 alleging that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

Mr Ngerng apologised to PM Lee last Friday, and admitted that the allegation in his May 15 post is false and “completely without foundation”.

He added: “I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.”

On the same day, information and advertising boards at several bus stops around Clarke Quay were found defaced with text such as “We support CPF blogger” and “Return CPF money” in black block letters, according to a report in The New Paper yesterday.

Yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) confirmed that graffiti was found at six bus stops, one of which was right outside the Old Hill Street Police Station.

The police confirmed that a report was lodged early last Friday. It is understood that LTA contractors were dispatched by mid-afternoon to clean up the affected areas.

When The Sunday Times visited the vicinity of the Old Hill Street Police Station, there were no traces of the graffiti.

The culprit or culprits could face up to three years in jail or a fine of up to $2,000, and could also receive between three and eight strokes of the cane.

Moulmein-Kallang GRC Member of Parliament Denise Phua condemned the acts which occurred in her ward and called for common sense to prevail.

“Such forms of negative expression are not useful in helping Roy Ngerng’s current situation or addressing the deeper issues concerning CPF withdrawal,” she said.

“The issue calls for a rational, deeper and more constructive dialogue.”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/news/story/clarke-quay-bus-stop-vandalism-under-probe-20140525#sthash.cs8S5wio.dpuf

CISCO officer taking $10 coffee money from maid

From ‘Ex-CISCO officer jailed a week for taking coffee money’, 17 May 2014, Today

A former Certis CISCO security officer who took S$10 in “coffee money” from a domestic helper was jailed for a week yesterday.

Kalaiarasan Muniandy, a 22-year-old Malaysian, was carrying out his duties on Jan 19 at Paya Lebar MRT Station when he spotted Ms Hasna, a domestic helper, drinking water at the station’s premises. Kalaiarasan then told her that she would be issued with a summons of S$300 for doing so and took down her particulars. When she told him that she would not be able to pay the fine as she had only S$10 with her, he asked her to place the money on his desk and told her to leave.

When the helper’s employer found out about the incident, she lodged a police report and the case was referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. For his act of corruption, Kalaiarasan could have been fined a maximum of S$100,000 and jailed five years.

The picture says carbonated water, btw. There are bubbles.

Even babies are not spared from this absurd ‘no drinking’ rule. In 2010, a news clip depicted an SMRT officer kindly asking a mother and her child to get out of the train to BOTTLE-FEED water. Not sure if this is video staged, but it also features an officer fining a schoolgirl for eating peanuts, and issuing a stern warning to an auntie for drinking water after taking her medication. It’s like the classic reality television series ‘COPS’, except on the MRT. WHY U NO GIVE CHANCE?

A woman was also fined for eating a sweet on the train. Her penalty? THIRTY DAMN DOLLARS. Why is the fine for drinking water 10 times that amount? Could it be that the consequence of consuming sugary snacks is merely the drawing of pests, while a puddle of plain water is a deathtrap? With our trains packed to the brim, how many passengers have actually slipped from dripped water and suffered skull fractures from it? You’re more likely to get bruised in a fist fight than keel over on a few drops of water, really. If safety is a concern, why not BAN passengers from entering the train if they’re soaking wet from the rain too, or wet umbrellas for God’s sake. Wait, you’re not supposed to even enter or remain on a train when it’s FULL.

So rules are rules, and SMRT would like to claim that they have been applying it across the board, whether you’re eating a KFC chicken wing or sipping from a water bottle for throat relief. But have they really? Some water sippers have been let off the hook with just a warning instead of the maxiumum $500 fine. Another blogger recounts an SMRT auntie telling her off for drinking mineral water (but presumably let off without a fine). Surely there should have been exceptions when we were experiencing the drought some months back? What if you’re an NSman on the way home after a vigorous day of training in the hot sun defending our nation, or a catatonic elderly person on the priority seat? If I had the money to spare I would go around MRT stations testing SMRT protocol to see how much they would fine me if I drunk plain water, Coke or chicken soup that my dying grandmother made especially for me. Or see how far I’d go if I fake a voice as hoarse as someone with trachea cancer.

‘Coffee money’ didn’t always imply bribery in the past. In the 1930’s it was used by the rich to describe little ‘tokens’ which they generously give out in addition to a servant’s salary. And 20 cents could probably buy you an actual cup of coffee then. Today even HOT WATER is more expensive than that. In the 60’s ‘coffee money’ was a smaller sum of ‘extortion’ or ‘protection’ money given to gangsters. It wasn’t until the seventies when the market rate of coffee money rose to $10, and referred to petty inducement of any figure of authority to waive a criminal charge or bend some regulations. This CISCO officer reportedly asked for $30, but settled for 10 as well. What of the maid then, shouldn’t she be charged for offering a bribe too? By the way, you could get jailed for giving Malaysian traffic police ‘kopi money’ to waive off a speeding ticket.

The record for the world’s cheapest  ‘coffee money’, was an astounding ONE DOLLAR in 1980 used to tempt a customs officer into clearing cargo for a shop assistant. What an insult, I can’t even get anything out of a vending machine with that kind of money these days. Well technically speaking, back then you could use that to buy a kopi-o and even get some change back. On the flipside, the largest amount of ‘coffee money’ recorded so far could be the $2000 accepted in 1969 by a BP oilman to obtain dealership for a petrol kiosk. That could get you at least 40 cups of kopi luwak.

Wonder what Kalairasan did with his $10 ‘coffee money’. Maybe a Grande Starbucks Frappucino with a side order of cheesecake. They serve free coffee in jail, I hope.

SMRT train in Bishan depot vandalised

From ‘Train at Bishan depot vandalised; police investigating’, 10 May 2014, article by Grace Chua, ST

A train at SMRT’s Bishan depot was vandalised, in the third such incident here in four years. Police said they received a call early on Monday morning at 6.17am, requesting assistance “at a premise along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1″. When the police arrived, a case of vandalism was reported, said a spokesman, who added that investigations are ongoing.

SMRT spokesman Alina Boey said on Saturday: “Vandalism was found on one of our trains at Bishan Depot on May 5. We have since made a police report and will assist the police in their investigations.”

…SMRT has previously been fined $200,000 and $50,000 for two separate security breaches at its depots.

In May 2010, two vandals cut through the fence of SMRT’s Changi depot and spray-painted graffiti on one side of a train. One of them, Swiss national Oliver Fricker, was given seven months’ jail and three strokes of the cane, while his accomplice, Briton Lloyd Dane Alexander, remains at large. In August 2011, a hole was cut in the fence at the Bishan Depot, and the words “Jet Setter’s” were spray-painted on one of the trains.

20141205_ln_mrt-01

Go home train you’re drunk

What the article omitted was that the fate of the previous Bishan depot vandals who painted ‘Jet Setter’s’ remains unknown to this day. I’m also surprised to read that Lloyd Dane Alexander is still on the Interpol manhunt list since 2010, and has been all but forgotten. Meanwhile we’ve apprehended, quite speedily I must say, 5 boys who vandalised a Toa Payoh rooftop , a solo vandal for desecrating the Cenotaph, and a woman ‘street artist’ responsible behind ‘My Grandfather Road’, all within days of their violation. The only explanation as to why our Police and Interpol combined still have trouble finding Lloyd, dead or alive, over these FOUR YEARS is that he may have, along with the ‘Jet Setters’,  jettisoned himself into outer space.

According to the Sunday Times (Vandals strike Bishan MRT depot, 11 May 2014), it appears that the vandals’ work wasn’t as pretty as that of ‘McKoy and Banos’, a ‘wordless scrawl 3m long and a metre high’.  There was also NO physical breach of the fence, so whoever gave SMRT the slip must have picked up a stealth skill or two from the Toa Payoh vandals. Why aren’t these people recruited as SAF spies and saboteurs already, elite soldiers adept at scaling fences and buildings more than 20 storeys high?

In case you’re wondering where the money from the previous $200,000 fine goes, it’s into the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares. Which means for this serious breach of security, SMRT is penalised by giving money to LTA, who in turn transfers it to people who need the MRT and its buses the most i.e the money ultimately GOES BACK to SMRT. In comparison, train disruptions in 2011 cost SMRT $2 MILLION. Today, our trains still get disrupted, and occasionally someone still breaks into a depot to vandalise it.

How is such a fine even effective in the long run? Shouldn’t putting some big bosses’ heads on the chopping board be a greater deterrent to operational negligence? Is Lui Tuck Yew going to express his ‘disappointment’ again that SMRT has allowed this to happen THREE times, despite SMRT taking additional security measures by employing Certis Cisco to conduct round-the-clock surveillance? In 2010-2011, the remedial actions were under the charge of Saw Phaik Hwa, who has since resigned and joined Auric Pacific in 2012, the same company  responsible for Delifrance and Sunshine bread. So far no one has died from either.

It’s worth noting that the Toa Payoh vandalism took place on May 7, TWO DAYS AFTER the Bishan depot incident (May 5), and the culprits of the former were caught (10 May) just as the news of the MRT vandalism broke. Which means SMRT took a few days to report this to the Police, just like how they took 2 days to report Fricker and Lloyd’s intrusion. Is it any wonder that the vandals are still at large given the lead time gained from SMRT keeping quiet, probably scurrying about with their own ‘internal investigations’ , more worried about their reputation than catching the people responsible? Wait, WHAT reputation.

I’m predicting a $500K fine this time, and maybe SMRT might just withdraw their intention to extend Free Early Bird Train Rides till 2015. In the end, it’s not SMRT, LTA or the Minister of Transport, nor even the vandals themselves (if they never get caught) who suffer, but us the commuters.

Postscript: Police are working on the premise that this might be an inside job as there are no traces of trespass, taking fingerprints of SMRT employees working the night shift on May 5. The latest ST article (Police take fingerprints of SMRT employees, 13 May 2014, ST) also used Melbourne as reference (35 cases of train vandalism a MONTH), emphasising that vandalism is a scourge that affects major cities and suggesting that we’re already doing a good job keeping it to 3 in at least 3 YEARS.

Some writers have suggested cracking down on spray paint cans, banning sale to minors and registering buyers, analogous to our reaction towards chewing gum. Well, why stop there, why not control crayons, colour pencils and paintbrushes too? And even if we deprive the majority of creative tools, there are other ways to deface public property, like throwing excrement for example.

 

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