Suzhou Industrial Park ex-CEO probed for corruption

From ‘Ex-CEO of Suzhou Park in graft probe’, 21 Sept 2014, article by Kor Kian Beng, Sunday Times

Suzhou Industrial Park’s former chief executive officer Bai Guizhi, a Chinese national, has been investigated for graft, in the most serious scandal to hit the first bilateral project between China and Singapore.

….SIP’s administrative committee, an arm of the Suzhou city government overseeing the project, is believed to be responsible for Mr Bai’s appointment and that of other key posts in the industrial park.

CSSD chief executives were Singaporeans from 1994 to 2000, when a Singapore consortium held a majority 65 per cent stake in SIP – which was set up with the backing of Singapore’s former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the late Chinese strongman Deng Xiaoping. The key goal of the 288 sq km industrial park was to replicate Singapore’s industrialisation expertise and to transfer the Republic’s “software” and way of doing things to Suzhou and other cities.

From Jan 1, 2001, Chinese nationals were appointed as CEOs after a loss-making streak in SIP saw Singapore shrinking its stake to 35 per cent and its share of the park to just 8 sq km, instead of the 70 sq km planned. Things have picked up for SIP. It has become one of China’s most successful industrial parks, and garnered international awards.

A Singapore consortium now holds a 28 per cent stake in the CSSD.

To mark 20 years of the ‘special and long-standing friendship‘ between Singapore and Suzhou, the city’s mayor planted 5 Osmanthus flowers (the official flower of Suzhou) at the Gardens by the Bay. Things, however, haven’t been all rosy since its inception in 1994, this sprawling lovechild of LKY and Deng Xiaoping. The latest graft incident would be what our esteemed elder statesman would refer to another of the Chinese government’s ‘municipal shenanigans’. Despite all the ‘teething problems’ which LKY had with the Chinese authorities, Suzhou has been flourishing since, even winning the ironically titled Lee Kuan Yew World City prize recently, despite us having a physical presence of just 8 sq km.

Here are some interesting tidbits about our maiden ‘bilateral’ project:

1. Singapore’s social order was an inspiration for Deng Xiaoping, who in 1978 called us a ‘capitalist version of the COMMUNIST dream’, before the SIP program began. Yet any mention of communism in our media today gets slammed and banned by the government, as what happened to a recent documentary by Tan Pin Pin.

2. The SIP’s estimated cost was $30 billion. For 4 years since it was set up, it was making losses of up to US $24 million annually. Our flagship ‘government to government’ cooperative wasn’t exactly off to a flying start.

3. Lee Hsien Loong disclosed in 1998 that 10 of the 24 companies of the Singapore consortium were government-linked companies and statutory boards. $115 milion was pumped in.

4. In 1998, city vice mayor Wang Jinhua told a group of German investors to pump their money directly into rival and precursor industrial park SND (Suzhou New District), which was run by local authorities, without involving Singapore. LKY complained to President Jiang Zemin about it, despite the situation in China being a case of ‘The mountains are high and the emperor is far away’.

5. The founding CEO of the Suzhou project was former MP Chan Soo Sen. He went on to become Independent Director of a company that calls itself MIDAS Holdings.

6. 2001 was the year Singapore ceded management duties over to the Chinese government. The NY times called it a ‘face-saving’ exercise. LKY blamed the Chinese government for promoting SND instead. Other political observers surmised we had no bloody idea what we were getting into. I believe there’s another Chinese saying for ‘small fry in a big pond’. LKY expected ‘special treatment’ for his baby, but wasn’t prepared for the reality that is, well, competition, underhanded as it may be.

7. The Economist referred to the SIP as an attempt to ‘clone’ Singapore in a Chinese city. Other extensions of our ‘software replication’ would sprout up in Tianjin and Vietnam. In May rioters set fire to 3 factories in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park complex. Seems like the ‘software’ was not flameproof.

8. In 2009, despite his disappointment with Chinese business practices, LKY maintained that SIP was the ‘right decision’. Not sure if it was ‘right’ for bilateral relations,  or ‘right’ for Singaporeans in general, especially since to the layman, the Suzhou incident appears to be a case of the Chinese ‘borrowing’ our ideas and hijacking the Singapore brand, then running off with it, applying our ‘software’ to copycat cities to the tune of billions of dollars; i.e it turned out ‘right’ for the Chinese. Then every 10 years, they come down and plant token flowers in our $1 billion garden. Which is NICE, rather than just ripping us off like this thing they did with Apple without giving credit where credit’s due.

Success or flop, there are take-home lessons from our experience with SIP, yet our government continues to woo China like an infatuated puppy, still stuck in its Sinophilia, insisting that the SIP was a resounding masterstroke of the genius that is LKY despite the apparent ‘glitches’ in the software. A Guangzhou Knowledge City is in the pipeline as we speak, lauded as one ‘driven by the private sector’ unlike the previous projects, which is in fact a 50:50 venture involving Temasek Holdings-owned Singbridge International. The man in charge? Wong Kan Seng, who had always believed that there was ‘money to be made‘ in China. Isn’t that the guy who…never mind.

If the SIP and similar ventures were products you could pick up off the shelf, you can be certain that it’ll say ‘Made in China’ on the labels, and next time when a foreigner asks you if Singapore is ‘somewhere in China’, he wouldn’t be totally off the mark. Maybe it’s time for some software updates and bug fixes, before we go around pointing to SIP and claiming credit like an excited kid telling his parents that this entire city would never have existed if he hadn’t built a Lego model to inspire it from the beginning.

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F1 Grand Prix is not a $25 chicken rice race

From ‘Singapore GP not a $25-chicken-rice race: organisers’, 14 Sept 2014, article in CNA

The Singapore Grand Prix is meant to be a great experience and not a ‘$25-Chicken-Rice’ race, said the organisers of Formula One’s (F1) only night race, in response to a report that showed the city-state may not be the most affordable place to catch an F1 race.

Race organisers say Singaporeans consistently make up about 60 per cent of the over 80,000 race-goers each year. This applies to every price category – from the cheapest walkabout tickets to the Pit Grandstand.

“Over and above a sporting occasion, it is a huge social occasion now. Singaporeans like a good party,” said Mr Michael Roche, executive director of the Singapore GP. “I think this loyalty has grown among Singaporeans – they’ve become quite proud of the Singapore Grand Prix and they like it when the world is watching Singapore and the skyline.

“We don’t want to be a ‘$25-chicken-rice Grand Prix’. We want to be a great experience.”

But there is a price to be paid for the chance to experience F1’s only night race. Travel website TripAdvisor ranked the Singapore Grand Prix as the seventh most expensive, out of the 19 races worldwide. It said the price of catching the Sunday final race here is S$622.67. This includes the cost of the cheapest tickets at S$207.33, a meal and a night’s stay at a hotel near the track.

Roche’s analogy of a ‘$25 chicken rice dish’ is likely a snub at the famous house special at Meritus Mandarin’s Chatterbox, which now incidentally costs $27. Curiously enough, the ‘legendary’ chicken rice was created by a German chef back in 1971, who was inspired by the hawker version to create a premium dish, made from COBB 500 chickens, medium grain jasmine rice and homemade ginger and chilli sauces. I wonder what former executive chef Peter Gehrmann would think of the comparison, with Roche suggesting that $25 for a plate is overpriced, overrated when it seems like only top-grade ingredients went into its concoction. Chicken rice will never be ‘sexy’ or ‘glamorous’ like an F1 race no matter how you mark it up. And honestly, thank God it’s not.

While Chatterbox used to be a ‘coffee house’ in those days, today it’s a casual diner and its ‘award-winning’ chicken rice still wins the hearts of some locals who appreciate the generous servings of meat, describe the sauces as ‘sublime’ and the meal as an ‘annual pilgrimage’ (WHAT awards exactly, I wonder). Perhaps the Night Race is more of a $25 XO Chai Tau Quay instead? 20 years ago, Chatterbox charged their chicken rice at $16 per plate (Is $16 too high a price for chicken rice, 17 Aug 1995, ST), which is still cheaper than what you can get for a BURGER at F1 ($17) today.  In 2009, food stalls in the F1 zone were charging chicken rice and HOKKIEN MEE at $8, which was expected since the whole event was designed to milk the most out of rich people, though if I had to choose between a sub-par, measly $8 chicken rice and the Chatterbox dish, I’d rather splurge on the latter. According to Trip Advisor, we also sell the most expensive pint of beer in the history of F1 ($13.58), no thanks to our recent increase in sin taxes. Nobody seems to be overly concerned about a riot breaking out on the grandstands.

But look at the discrepancy between our minimum ticket price vs Malaysia just across the Causeway ($207.33 vs $39.12). The CNA article also didn’t mention that, according to the BBC, Singapore has the MOST EXPENSIVE 3-day ticket OF ALL (1,109 pounds) (2013). The second most expensive ticket in the world was from Brazil, at a distant 745 pounds per ticket. This year, for $42276.50 you could book a GREEN ROOM (Oops, you can’t now, it’s sold out!). What the F1 organisers are avoiding to explain really is WHY so expensive compared to the rest of the region (i.e Malaysia), even for a night race. It’s not that we have the most ardent racing fans so much as we have the greatest concentration of goddamn billionaires  (26) here.

Not to mention the other intangible costs of a night race on our environment, namely the excessive use of lighting. No, the F1 isn’t a $25 chicken rice dish. Ecologically speaking, it’s a $25 triple-decker Big Mac, sinful beyond redemption, greasy, artery-clogging, too much of which will eventually kill you. In the government’s eyes, it’s a billion-dollar baby.

Playing football on Sports Hub field like running on the beach

From ‘Inaugural football game at Sports Hub a letdown’, 19 Aug 2014, Voices, Today

(Mohamad Farid Harunal Rashid): I watched the game between the Singapore Selection and Juventus at the Sports Hub on Aug 16, and was disappointed on several levels. First, while the National Stadium’s physical structure was impressive, the pitch was below par.

It was sandy, with many barren patches, not at all like the state-of-the-art turf mentioned in reports. Indeed, Juventus rested one of their star players, Carlos Tevez, reportedly due to concerns about the safety of the pitch.

The game itself was lacklustre and pedestrian. Notwithstanding that it was a friendly at the end of a long and busy post-season in a World Cup year, the quality of football was below expectations.

Ex-national player Nasri Nasir described his experience playing Juventus as ‘running on a beach’ (Sports Hub field far from pitch-perfect, 19 Aug 2014, ST). With all the patches of sand on the crowning centrepiece of our new Sports Hub, maybe it was a tad ambitious challenging the Italian Serie A champion on its first run. We could have started with a celebrity model bikini beach volleyball charity extravaganza instead. Then no one would be complaining about uninspiring attacks, balding pitches or miniature sandstorms being kicked up all over the place.

The ‘state-of-the-art’ field in the Sports Hub is the Desso Grassmaster, dubbed as the pitch of the 21st century. It boasts ‘good traction’ and ‘modifiable levels of hardness and ball bounce’ all thanks to its 3% artificial fibre meshed with 97% natural grass. Installed in global arenas like Wembley and Emirates stadium, the Grassmaster is undoubtedly the field of champions, able to withstand the harshest, most unpredictable weather and the most violent of rugby scrums. You’re not just running around on a grassy field, but a SYSTEM engineered to bring out the best in athletic performance. Unfortunately the Singapore version also happens to be too dangerous to play Carlos Tevez on. You came all the way to Singapore for nothing, Tevez. Nothing at all.

Spending $800K on reinforced grass alone is nothing more than a mere vanity project if you don’t have internationally recognised National teams making it its home turf. The only thing more wasteful is building a massive indoor snow landscape as a Winter Olympics training facility. That amount of money could have went into school sports development programmes, maybe more swimming pools or badminton courts for the public, but instead we blow it a technological showcase which not only has to accommodate rugby players, but stampedes of Jay Chou fans come November. To purists who still gush over Malaysia Cup nostalgia, no amount of grass science can bring back the glory days of the Kallang Wave.

In the 80’s we experimented with the artificial football field known as ‘Astroturf’, which sounds like what the Jetsons play Astro-Golf on. Heralded as the ‘future of football in Singapore’ in 2004, it was supposed to optimise training rain-or-shine. A decade has passed since and the only thing ‘space-age’ about the state of football today is that it is still in deep LIMBO. Let’s hope the Grassmaster holds out in this crazy weather and not turn into a hybrid beach instead of the perfect luxurious pitch as promised. Otherwise, there may be other avenues which we may want to consider in our pursuit of sporting excellence. Like, I dunno, chariot racing or something.

Muslim woman demanding full refund for pigskin shoes

From ‘Muslim seeks refund for shoes lined with pig skin’, 24 June 2014, article by Melissa Lin, ST

A MUSLIM woman who bought a pair of $279 shoes was incensed to find out, after wearing them for six months, that the shoes were lined with pig skin. Administrative assistant Nur Najwa Abdullah, 43, is demanding a full refund from foot care chain Happy Walker, claiming that the sales staff had told her the shoes were made of calf skin.

Ustaz Firdaus Yahya, manager of the Darul Huffaz Learning Centre which promotes understanding of the Quran, said: “In Islam, anything related to pork, such as the meat or skin, is considered unclean.”

Islamic experts say while the use of pig-skin products is not considered a sin, a Muslim should go through a cleansing ritual if he or she has used the product….She complained to the Happy Walker outlet and told the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) about it. Muis advised her to discard the shoes and wash her feet with water and clay, a ritual cleansing.

If I were the manager of a shoe shop and someone asks me for a FULL refund for religious reasons, my natural reaction is to determine if I have in fact inflicted spiritual duress on the complainant and if the offence were indeed in accordance to what the scriptures prescribe. Granted, this Unhappy Walker customer was misinformed about the nature of the product, but MUIS have already declared that it’s ‘not a sin’ and Happy Walker was willing to offer half the money back out of goodwill. I would assume a 6-month old $279 pair would still be in good working condition, so this isn’t returning a ‘defective’ product, so much as a defective lapse in communication and understanding of how Islam works when it comes to dogs and swine. A waste of a perfectly good pair if MUIS’s recommendation is throwing the wretched filth away, short of burning it with fire.

Curious about what our Islamic authority has to say about touching nasty, forbidden things, I browsed a MUIS’ FAQ webpage, but came away with more questions than answers. Here’s a sample:

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.08.31 PM

Does ‘hides’ include chemically treated, tanned leather?
If the pig and my hand are both dry, do I still need to wash the affected area 7 times?
How do I know if the earth/sand I use is not also contaminated with heavy Najis? Does MUIS have an analytical lab to sniff out najis compounds?
How pure should ‘pure clean water’ be? Will tap water do? Or do I need an entire lab apparatus to distill water for the purposes of ritual cleansing?
If I accidentally exposed my mouth and gums to pig-hair toothbrushes do I have to gargle with 6 parts water and 1 part water/earth too?

Pigs aside, what struck me most were these answers below as to whether it’s OK for a Muslim to TOUCH a DOG.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.11.15 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.24.55 PM

So is it OK to touch a dry dog with a dry hand and not cleanse after that?
Do I need to wash if I touched dried dog saliva in a cab?
Do I need a measuring jug to measure exactly 6 parts water and 1 part water and earth?
Must the water be pure and distilled as well?
If I step on fresh dogshit with shoes on, do I need to purify the dirty shoe?
If I step on dogshit with bare feet can I wash with soap first before doing the ritual wash?
Does ‘dog’ include coyote, wolf and dingo?

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.42.11 PM

What if I have chronically sweaty palms?
Can I swim, bathe, play sweaty sports with someone who eats pork?
Can my child play with toys in the image of a pig but made of non-porcine material?
How small are these ‘particles’ you speak of. Crumbs, or molecules?
Can I drink from the same bottle as a pork-eater?
What happens if I get bitten by a mosquito that just sucked dog’s blood?
If my non-Muslim friend became vegetarian just a day ago, how long must I wait before not a trace of pork filth is retained in his body?

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WHY CATS?

Pop up kindness cafe sending wrong message

From ‘Kindness cafe sends wrong message’, 13 June 2014, ST Forum

(Jeffrey Law Lee Beng): WE SHOULD not create the notion that one can only enjoy discounts or freebies by being friendly, kind and polite (“Say please and thanks for discount”; Tuesday).

I am supportive of the various initiatives of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) in encouraging Singaporeans to make a positive commitment to gracious living through simple acts of kindness. Events such as the I Love My Mum campaign, Heroes Run and photo contest organised by the SKM are commendable as they have impacted and reminded us of the importance of being filial, courteous and kind.

However, the movement’s pop-up cafe where customers are given a discount on a cup of coffee or a free loaf of bread by saying “please” and “thank you” is not the appropriate way to further inspire graciousness and friendliness, which should come from the heart.

(Lim Lih Mei): Being polite is basic manners for all. Striving hard to perform better in their studies is what all students should do. Do we really need money to incentivise such attitude and mindset? We may be nurturing a population that will perform certain acts only when the carrot is cash.

Will that be with a smile or no smile, sir?

Will that be with a smile or no smile, sir?

Here’s what you should do if you want to get a FREE coffee at the Kindness Cafe. Tip your hat, smile, bow and say ‘Good afternoon, how are you doing today, my good sir. Can I trouble you with one coffee, pretty please with sugar on top. Thank you very much!God bless you!’

There’s much more to kindness than saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ of course. You can put on the most nerve-cringing display of politeness at the counter just for a $2 cuppa but come back later and complain that it tastes like bloody ‘longkang’ water after that. There is also nothing in the Kindness Cafe rulebook that says you can’t recite the $2 line with a grumpy, monotonous tone, or shout it out with your finger pointing all over the place not even looking the poor fella in the eye. You may also try to test the gimmick by seeing how the staff would react if you just say ‘Oi!Give me THAT one’. If you have $5 or more to spare, that is. What about people with speech impairments then, do they have a sign language version for discounted coffee? If I were a staff of the Kindness Cafe I’d feel pretty unimpressed throughout, knowing that people are being nice to me only because they’re following a template on the board next to them, and not that they’re actually out to make my day. In fact I’d feel pretty good if I can charge the rare $5 customer for being a total asshole whose parents never taught to say ‘please’ like a decent human being.

The last time someone ran a promo for discounted drinks was not based on how polite you are, but how physically well-endowed you are. The bigger your cup size, the less you had to pay for drinks at Overeasy bar back in 2010. Totally unrelated of course, except that it’s not just the customers alone who got to see how ‘HAPPY things can get’.  By linking ‘happy’ material discounts to politeness, the SKM is saying ‘happiness’ is about getting things cheap, when we’ve always been told that the reward of a good deed is to have done it, that, well, courtesy is FOR FREE. Courtesy has taken on a ‘GSS mentality’, and before you know it, someone will be patrolling MRT trains dishing out free transport vouchers to people who give up their seats to those who need it. So that’s where all the money for former courtesy mascot Singa’s salary goes to.

The Kindness cafe is not going to train people into becoming angels to those poor souls in the service industry. At best, it’s just a harmless reminder that baristas are humans with feelings too and it would be ‘nice’ to give compliments once in a while. I, for one, wouldn’t line up for a Kindness coffee. Not that I’m the kind who points at menus and grunts, but because I’d have to wait for people to memorise and recite their $2 lines before getting served. Anyway, it’s also time for a new courtesy song. Something like this perhaps?

Courtesy is for kopi
Courtesy is for you and me
It makes for happy sipping and harmony
Happiness you can buy
With discounted kopi-o-siew dai
Make courtesy our way of life
(Adapted from the Courtesy is for Free song, original lyrics here)

Andy Chua paying $2.7 million to lunch with Warren Buffett

From ‘Singapore’s Andy Chua snags the right to dine with Warren Buffett with $2.7 million bid’, 8 June 2014, ST

Singapore’s Andy Chua has won the right to dine with the world’s third-richest man Warren Buffett, news reports said on Saturday. Mr Chua won the privilege of a dinner with Mr Buffett, one of the savviest stock investors in the world, with a single bid of US$2,166,766 (S$2.71 million). No other details about Mr Chua were immediately available.

The proceeds will benefit a San Francisco charity. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Mr Chua and seven guests will get to meet Mr Buffett, the Chief Executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in Manhattan for lunch at Smith & Wollensky, a 10-restaurant chain of steakhouses with small-batch bourbons and deep-polished wood, where a shrimp cocktail goes for about US$20 and the long bone rib-eye close to US$70.

Bidding started last Sunday at US$25,000. By Tuesday, the US$500,000 mark had been reached. The bidding surpassed US$1 million on Wednesday. On Friday evening, there was a flurry of late bids. Bloomberg News reported that Mr Chua was the 12th and final hopeful to bid with less than 10 minutes to go in the auction on Friday evening.

The winning bid was more than double last year’s US$1 million winner, the Omaha World-Herald said.

Like the owners of the most expensive car in the country, Andy Chua is relatively unknown, supposedly another mystery Singaporean tycoon. And for good reason;  if I had a vault of pure gold hidden beneath my backyard I would choose to remain a recluse too. Not all rich folk collect European football clubs like Peter Lim. For Chua, a million dollars per hour with Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, is worth splurging on.  Perhaps you’d get priceless money-making tips that Buffett doesn’t already tell you in his books. You’d also get some insight into his favourite foods: Medium-rare steak, hash browns and a cherry coke. One lucky diner didn’t just go away with investment tips. Ted Weschler was given a job at Berkshire Hathaway. So not only is this a 2 million dollar power lunch, it may also be the most expensive interview ever. Amazingly, Chua’s not the first one from Singapore to spend a few hours power-lunching with an investment god.

In 2005, Jason Choo spent almost ONE-TENTH of Chua’s bid to score a date with Buffett. All that is known about this guy is that he spent 3 hours with his idol at the same steakhouse with his wife, and was a 33 YEAR OLD investor and Vegas regular then. Jason and Andy join the ranks of other Asian men who have had the privilege of spending some private moments with Buffett, including China’s Zhao Danyang (2007) and  Duan Yongping (2006), with reports claiming that the 2011 and 2012 Anonymous winners might also have been Chinese. I wonder if these guys’ net worth skyrocketed since eating steak with Buffett, or continued to do anything for the same charity outside of seeing an 83-year old billionaire put food in his mouth.

Proceeds for the luncheon go to the Glide foundation charity that donates a million meals each year to the poor in San Francisco. We’ve had similar charity bids locally. In 2012, a bunch of food bloggers got people to bid for Valentine’s Day dinner dates for the Spastic Children’s Association. Daniel Ang was ‘sold’ for $82. 65. If Choo and Chua had given their money to the Hair for Hope cause instead (target $3.6 million this year), not only would they have given local cancer-striken children a new lease of life, but saved many scalps as well. The same amount could also spare thousands of masochists from suffering blisters on their feet participating in Bare Your Sole 2014. Personally, I wouldn’t give my life savings just to have lunch with anyone. Other than Aladdin’s Genie, perhaps.

UPDATE: Andy Chua is the chairman of the AMES United group, formerly Yun Nam Hair Care, and is in the beauty empire business. Well I’m sure those two have plenty to talk about then.  I wonder why AMES is named like a football club, though. (AMES stands for Achievement Morale Efficiency Significance. Funny, I thought it should be American-Megabillionaire-Emulating Singaporean.)

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?

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