Birds shitting in food at hawker centres

From ‘Growing bird population is worrying’, 15 March 2018, ST Forum

(Ng Boon Soon): The increase in the bird population in Singapore is causing too much inconvenience and creating health hazards. Judging from the frequent bird encounters at hawker centres, coffee shops and canteens, the bird population has increased substantially.

It is not possible to order food and leave it unattended on the table.

Recently, I visited a hawker centre in Farrer Road and was shocked to see two mynahs perched on the metal rail directly above a stall owner cooking noodles.

My immediate concern was of bird droppings mixing with the food.

Another encounter was at Serangoon Garden hawker centre. We had some difficulty getting a clean table because many tables and seats were stained with bird droppings. When we asked the cleaner to do something, he said he had already cleaned the same table and seat many times.

Recently, when I visited my daughter at her primary school, I saw bird droppings on the tables and benches as well.

I believe the cleaners have done their job but the situation is happening too often. I am worried about the health of the children.

Something needs to be done.

In Orchard Road, one can hear the loud chirping of birds and see their droppings on the pavement. It is sad to see such an ugly sight in Singapore’s iconic shopping belt.

The Government needs to start a working group to resolve this persistent problem.

Yes, evil hovering mynah birds are a threat to national security, more so than disinformation, deliberate falsehoods and fake news. But it’s not just bird poop that’s causing everyone distress, it’s the way they sound in the morning, especially the call of the Asian koel. Not only are our children exposed to the risk of accidentally eating birdshit or getting infected by pandemic bird disease, they get distracted from their schoolwork because these tiny flying bastards make too much noise.

You want proof?

If we don’t set up a Committee of Avian Management to Safeguard Public Health, this is the scenario we’ll be facing, one that no SG secure or anti-terrorist drill can save humanity from.

Yes, students will be chased out of schools, their scalps and eyes pecked at by beaks sharp as machetes. Do you want to see this happening to our tourists in Orchard Road, their hair soaked white with shit and their eyeballs plucked out of their sockets as easily as these flying demons pulling worms out of the ground? Zombies in trains are nothing compared to this calamity.

Maybe this is an elite mastermind at work, someone who has deployed an army of birdie minions to hawker centres to poison us lower social economic status (SES) folk. Or maybe all this rampant shitting is their way of avenging the culling of their chicken brethren by AVA.  Let’s get rid of them all then. The crows, the pigeons, the koels, the two mynahs staring at us eating at hawker centres, even the fucking peacocks in Labrador Park. Let us have our walks in peace, without having to worry about shampooing our heads with Dettol thereafter or listen to their terrible twittering that sends chills down our spines, their chirpy conspiring to end the human race once and for all, to bring back the age of the dinosaurs from which they all descended from.

How about this, AVA? Installing a scarecrow in public areas if you don’t want to call in pest control. I know the perfect effigy, one with the face that will send a thousand crows scattering into the sun.

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Sylvia Lim’s dishonest ‘test balloon’ remark on GST hike

From ‘Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat asks is Sylvia Lim will withdraw ‘test balloon’ allegation on GST hike timing’, 2 March 2018, article in CNA

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat issued a statement on Friday (Mar 2), asking if Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim was ready to apologise to the House and withdraw her allegation that the Government had floated “test balloons” about raising the goods and services tax (GST).

In Parliament on Thursday, Ms Lim said that the Government had floated “test balloons” before the Budget announcement, then possibly “backed down” on an immediate GST hike due to the negative public reaction.

She said: “We do note that in the run-up to the Budget discussion there were some test balloons being floated out about the fact that the Government needs to raise revenue. And immediately the public seized on the fact that DPM Tharman and perhaps other leaders had earlier said that the Government has enough money for the decade. So the public pointed out that ‘hey, you know, is this a contradiction?’

“And I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement, otherwise, you know, if their announcement had not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”

This sparked a testy exchange in Parliament with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who called Ms Lim’s comments “baseless suggestions” that were “hypocritical and dishonest”.

 

According to the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act,

There shall be freedom of speech and debate and proceedings in Parliament, and such freedom of speech and debate and proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court, commission of inquiry, committee of inquiry, tribunal or any other place whatsoever out of Parliament.

Yes, even in a setting where freedom of speech is codified in law, you can’t bring out ‘suspicions’, ‘honest beliefs’ or even a ‘personal opinion’ without raising the red flag of FAKE NEWS. Poor Sylvia can choose to take back her words like fellow WP colleague Leon Perera, or take the long road like JBJ back in 1982 when he was threatened with possible breach of ‘Parliamentary Privilege‘. Likewise one has no qualms about accusing an Opposition member for being a liar or hypocrite because Parliamentary Privilege that’s why.

These leaders in the House serve as a sad role model for senior management in public service when it comes to dealing with feedback. Don’t complain unless you have substance to back you up. If not, you’re fucking Fake News. It reflects MP Louis Ng’s comment about public officers refraining from speaking up out of fear of retaliation. Turns out that Louis himself floated a test balloon that was promptly burst by Ong Ye Kung’s rebuke that this ‘does not do justice’ to the public service.

Why not let Sylvia’s supposedly off-the-cuff comment serve as a learning point and chance for clarification for the PAP, instead of an opportunity to flex some time-wasting verbal muscle and vindicate everyone’s opinion of the PAP as an uptight, arrogant party who won’t stand for a little intellectual tickle from their political opponents, only to be soothed by the orgasm of hearing someone like Sylvia saying ‘I’m sorry my lord’, like a bawling baby calmed by cooing and sweet nothings.

I say let’s just get on with it, people.

 

 

 

Escobar eatery named after evil drug lord

From ‘CNB to keep very close watch on Escobar eatery named after Columbian drug lord’, 8 Feb 2018, article in CNA

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will be keeping a “very close watch” on a bar named after Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, following an angry complaint lodged last Friday (Feb 2) by the country’s embassy to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“CNB and the Singapore Police Force will be engaging the owner of the bar and will take the necessary action to uphold our strict anti-drug policy,” said a CNB spokesperson.

“It will also be keeping a very close watch on the bar and its patrons to ensure that no illegal drug activities take place there,” said the spokesperson, adding that the agency understood that the Colombian embassy and community, as well as some Singaporeans were upset about the matter.

In a three-page letter, the Colombian embassy expressed “serious concern” over the eatery in China Square Central, saying that it was paying tribute to the “worst criminal in the history of Colombia”.

The way that Pablo Escobar’s name and image are being used to promote the outlet runs counter to Singapore’s approach towards drugs and government efforts in preventive drug education, the CNB spokesperson added.

“The glamorisation of a drug kingpin and associated drug use is irresponsible and insensitive.”

CNB should also be keeping an eye on Mcdonalds’ because they name one of their breakfast staples a ‘HASH’ brown. They should also check out ACID bar at Peranakan place, and review a classical performance named ‘Poem of Ecstasy‘. Seriously, what exactly is CNB expecting? If I’m going to run an underground drug ring, the last thing I want to do is blow my cover by naming it after a crime lord, and choose something seemingly playful and innocuous like Gudetama cafe instead.

Some years back, people complained about a pub that called itself Aushwitz because it reminded everyone about the Holocaust. Yet nothing was done about a hotpot restaurant that honoured a brutal Chinese dictator responsible for 45 million deaths (House of Mao Hunan Hot Pot). Nor did we touch restaurants with suspiciously subversive communist elements, like Red Star Restaurant.

We disapprove of exhibitions that summon the sufferings of our forefathers under the yoke of colonialism, yet we celebrate the legacy of a man who was borne of that very same system, a man whose name graces a world-famous hotel that also is the birthplace of our very own Singapore Sling.

Would Christians complain if I opened a hipster cafe called ‘Satan’s Lair’?  Would the Russian embassy knock on my door if I open a gallery of Soviet kitsch? Would the police run checks on Hannibal restaurant to make sure they don’t store human corpses in their fridge?

 

 

Who wants to watch live feeds of Parliamentary proceedings?

From ‘Videos of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government: Chee Hong Tat’, 7 Nov 2017, article in CNA

Video recordings of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government which in turn commissions national broadcaster Mediacorp to cover the sittings and show the footage on various platforms, including free-to-air television as well as on Channel NewsAsia’s Parliament micro-site and its Facebook page.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat clarified this in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7) in response to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera from the Workers’ Party (WP). Mr Perera had asked which entity owns the copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary proceedings.

He also asked if the Ministry would consider removing the copyright if indeed they are protected by one, and make all video footage of parliamentary proceedings freely available for use.

To this, Mr Chee said the public can use the recordings for personal and non-commercial purposes with attribution to Mediacorp. He said the recordings are already used regularly by social media sites and political parties, including the Workers’ Party.

Mr Perera then questioned why Parliament is not given the funding and ability to makes its own live feed and video recordings available with a searchable archive as is the case with countries like Australia, Taiwan and the United States.

Mr Chee said demand for a live feed of proceedings is low.

To be fair, it’s probably true that there are less people willing to sit through a live Parliamentary feed than a Crime watch episode. Mediacorp being a business entity struggling with ratings overall however, has a vested interest in making Parliamentary sessions not so much informative than ‘entertaining’ in bite-size snippets to cater to the general public, yet at the same time refrain from making their political masters look bad, no matter how attention grabbing it would be. Like when they’re caught napping for example.

Beyond intellectually stimulating debates, TV is also the perfect politician toolkit for drama. You have MPs bawling like a baby.

Begging for mercy.

Pointing to the heavens like in Taiwan drama serials seeking divine justice

Could anyone forget the saga that is ‘Tang Liang Hong is Not my Brother’

Some make grand exits like a boss without saying a single word.

And you have the occasional stand-up comedy bringing the House down, like Chan Chun Sing’s ‘Madam President’ skit.

In fact, when Today in Parliament debuted on SBC in 1985, while it was welcomed with much fanfare, there were already calls by Parliament fans for full uncensored telecasts, an act that would symbolise ‘democracy in action’. Though it’s often assumed that PAP speakers would reap the most airtime from these sessions, there were also complaints of opposition MPs hogging the limelight, like JBJ’s ‘unending complaints’ ‘unending complaints’ and ‘belching hot air’.

One MP, Tay Eng Soon, opposed the format of TV broadcasting altogether, recommending that viewers ‘close their eyes’ and listen to the crux of debates rather than picking on visual distractions like a politician’s dress sense, body language, or shiny reflection off his bald plate. But what is politics without its histrionics and theatre anyway.

Despite Chee Hong Tat’s claims of low viewership, I do believe there is value in putting up videos wholesale (by topics at least) as a supplement to the standard edits since the government has always emphasised on digitalisation and transparency, so that hardcore Parliament fans should be given the chance to dissect discussions, warts and all. Isn’t the purpose of the party whip or Speaker to serve as a real-time moderator/editor of the proceedings anyway, so that debates don’t get out of hand?

Besides, in the age of Netflix, TV viewership has been anaemic for years anyway. Given a choice between Parliament and watching a run-of-the-mill drama with actors spouting foreign accents, I’d rather spend my time on the former. The acting may even be better.

 

SMRT giving amnesty to flood culprits

From ‘Some SMRT staff own up to lapses during amnesty’, 4 Nov 2017, article by Adrian Lim, ST

Staff from at least one department in SMRT have admitted to lapses in their work, in response to a company call to own up – without penalty – before a wide-scale audit is launched.

The Straits Times understands that the employees are from SMRT’s building and facilities department, which oversees areas such as MRT tunnel ventilation, and flood and fire protection measures at train stations.

It is unclear how many staff have come forward in the “amnesty” exercise that ended yesterday, and which is targeted at quickly plugging gaps in maintenance operations – one of which caused the flooding of an MRT tunnel last month, bringing down train services on a stretch of the North-South Line for about 20 hours.

…PeopleWorldwide Consulting’s managing director David Leong said: “From an HR perspective, it’s very poor people management. The trust between the management and staff is totally lost.

“It doesn’t lead anywhere… Are you going to retain the people who owned up and let them do the same job? Or are you enticing them to come out, to remove them later?”

This amnesty is a witchhunt disguised as a saintly pardon. It’s like the bad guy in movies saying he won’t shoot you if you spill the beans, but lets you suffer a fate worse than death if you do anyway. SMRT’s CEO being a military guy probably explains the strategy behind this snare. It’s like urging the enemy out from the trenches with promises of warm baths and a 3 meals a day as a POW.

In a separate article, interviewed commuters were furious that those responsible would be given a second chance, but this gesture, like extending a greasy hand to someone hanging onto the edge of a cliff, can only mean that one’s career standing in SMRT is effectively over. And I believe those who owned up already know it, whether they end up with a stern warning or not.  Nobody expects a tea party with balloons and hugs of forgiveness.

Staff ferreted out by this so-called amnesty, supposedly without penalty, will be implicitly blacklisted and deprived of further opportunities within the company. The fact that management even needs to twirl a carrot to lure the culprits out from hiding suggests incompetence in governance and a dearth of ownership among workers. So, to quote something Trumpy, this makes ‘both sides’ look really, really shitty.

As the man in charge has said, all the fuck-ups boils down to ‘deep seated cultural issues’. Instead of pulling out all the stops with this fake magnanimity as a diversion from assigning blame, get to the core of the problem and fix it instead of dusting off table scraps.  I mean, that is your job after all, right?

UPDATE: Once the amnesty ended, SMRT embarked on a massive internal audit code- named ‘OPERATION OSPREY’, which sounds fiercer than the kinds of names we have for SAF mobilisation (Mighty Duck?). It was last used in 2001 by CNB to crack down on drug fiends, which gives you some idea of how the bigwigs view underlings who mess up, that they have to conjure an image of swooping talons snatching filthy rats out of their burrows.

13 staff including Vice Presidents from Maintenance were hauled up for disciplinary action, while SMRT maintains its deathly silence over the numbers ‘saved’ after owning up during the amnesty period (in the process exposing their colleagues). Meanwhile, the heads that matter remain firmly attached to their bodies, despite some talk of adjusting their salaries, while others roll.

 

 

Reserved Presidential Election is the Right Thing to Do

From ‘Reserved Presidential Election would cost votes but is the right thing to do’: PM Lee, 29 Sep 17, article in CNA

PM Lee Hsien Loong knew that the reserved Presidential Election would be unpopular but went ahead with it, as he strongly believed it was the “right thing to do“, he said in a dialogue session held last Saturday (Sep 23).

“Did I know that this subject would be a difficult one? That it would be unpopular and cost us votes? Yes, I knew,” he said at a People’s Association Kopi Talk held at Ci Yuan Community Club.

“If I do not know that these are sensitive matters, I cannot be in politics. But I did it, because I strongly believe, and still do, that this is the right thing to do.”

Mr Lee acknowledged that there was “some unhappiness” following the reserved election. “I can feel that; you do not have to tell me,” he said.

Three Malay candidates came forward to contest this year’s reserved election. while all of the candidates in the 2011 election were Chinese. Although businessmen Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican and Mr Farid Khan did not qualify, resulting in a walkover, they would not have come forward in an open election, Mr Lee said.

“So why didn’t they come? Because they knew that in an open election – all things being equal – a non-Chinese candidate would have no chance,” he said.

When the Americans dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, they knew it was – to put it mildly – an unpopular decision but to them it was the ‘right thing to do’. When the Nazis embarked on ethnic cleansing and conducted vile experiments on Jews for the advancement of science, they too strongly believed that it was the right thing to do. When Darth Vader ordered the destruction of the planet Alderaan by the Death Star…You get the point.

As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There are no good or evil men in this world, just men with what they believed were ‘right’ intentions. But this is what we’ve come to expect of a dominant party anyway, a smiling Nazi-nanny pushing divisive policies for our own good, and deciding for the nation how multiracialism should be handled, even down to the ‘right-ness’ of the stuff we read on the Internet.

Yet, history has proven, by the PM’s own admission, that HE and his PAP COULD BE WRONG.

In 2011, PM Lee said sorry to the nation, admitting ‘mistakes’ made that included overzealous foreigner intake and problem gambling as a result of the IRs.

‘And if we didn’t quite get it right, I’m sorry but we will try better the next time.’

When the next election comes around, given the ‘political cost’ of this unpopular PE, I wonder if he would apologise again – that they didn’t get it right at all. That they should have trusted the Chinese majority race, that we should have been given the dignity of casting our votes, that the ONE survey that the PAP likes to quote justifying the reserved PE (because Singaporeans, particularly the Chinese, are inherently racist who prefer to vote for a president of the same race), is a flaming pile of horse-shit.

If someone who was NOT from some prestigious institution had come up with a casual survey with the same results, he or she would have been hauled up for sedition and threatening racial harmony.  If someone who’s NOT the PM said stuff like ‘all things being equal, you being non-Chinese would have no chance’, he’d be branded as a straight out racist. The walked over candidates Marican and Khan threw their hat in the ring because they believed they could make a difference, not because they had no Chinese threat to deal with. Implying so is an insult not just to their ability, but to the idea of equality altogether. Also, has anyone wondered why it’s called CIMO and not MCIO or ICOM?

Let’s say I’m hiring a head waiter for a Chinese restaurant. My executive chef is Chinese,  my marketing director is Chinese, even the dishwashers are Chinese. ‘All things being equal’, fluency in Mandarin included, it shouldn’t matter if I hire a non-Chinese to do the job. The only reason I decide to hire MIOs only is because it’s better to have at least one non-Chinese on my team to placate my racist non-Chinese customers.

No sir, it’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the far-right thing to do too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malay and Indian food less healthy than Chinese food

From ‘War on diabetes: Changing eating habits of Malay, Indian communities an uphill task’, 25 Aug 17, article by Wong Pei Ting, Toh Ee Ming, Today

For Malay food vendor Aida Manapi, 50, the tastiest ayam penyet (smashed fried chicken) must be crispy and glistening, and there is only one way to cook it — “deep fried”.

And when it comes to roti prata, no one serves it by being stingy on ghee (clarified butter), said stall vendor Senthilvel Vedachalam, 43.

Such traditional methods of cooking or serving Indian and Malay favourite dishes, along with mindsets that they have to be cooked in a certain way for best results – have made it difficult for many hawkers and home cooks to change the way they prepare these dishes. For them, unlike Chinese dishes, one cannot produce a healthier, yet still tasty ayam penyet or roti prata by simply using less oil, salt or sauce.

In a related article back in 2010, even medical experts pointed to Malay food as a key reason for the burgeoning rate of diabetes and obesity among the community. Endocrinologist Lee Chung Horn also described Malays as ‘gregarious people’ characterised by social assemblies that revolve around fatty foods. The article above seems to suggest that toned down Malay and Indian dishes would be less enjoyable compared to Chinese food with their ‘bland’ porridges and soups, but that doesn’t explain why the queues for untampered char keow teow (with pork lard) are always longer than other stalls which put healthier choice stickers up on display.

Inevitably, the focus is always on hawker fare, food so rich and so close to our heart it’s often blamed for slowly destroying it. But that would be too simplistic an explanation for the diabetes epidemic. Due to our hectic, stressful lifestyles, it’s often challenging to prepare and indulge in homecooked meals, where one could at least regulate the amount of sugar, salt and fats, whatever race you are. Still, most of us don’t eat hawker food every day, we tend to go for variety across all cuisines, and articles like these also tend to avoid mentioning fast food for some mysterious reason. I would want to know if eating 1 Mcflurry is worse than a chendol, for example.  Of if a chicken chop at the ‘western’ stall is a healthier option than Spicy McChicken.

But if you’re talking about Chinese food being healthier than Malay/Indian food, here’s a quick rundown with a few shockers. References here , here and here.

  1. If you’re choosing between beef rendang and char kway teow, you could have 2 servings of the former and still take in less calories than the mother of all fatty foods. (312 vs 744 kcal)
  2. Roti prata vs Ang Ku Kueh? The Indian breakfast wins – minus curry I suppose (209 vs 240kcal)
  3. Goreng Pisang or Tau Huay? Of course the deep-fried banana anytime. (197 vs 317 kcal)
  4. Cantonese pork porridge with century egg has more cholesterol than mee rebus (370 vs 206g)
  5. Bak Chor Mee has more total fat than Mee Goreng ( 22.7 vs 20.4g )

Being accused of  gastro-racism aside, the fact of which race is more diabetic compared to the rest seems as clear as day, but putting the blame on some generic heritage foods alone without an assessment of other lifestyle habits may mislead some into preferring the wrong foods as ‘healthier’ alternatives, without controlling for hidden carbs/fat/salt in beverages or condiments. Further, just because something has less calories doesn’t mean it has more ‘nutritional value’. Take carrot cake vs nasi lemak as a single meal for example, the latter packed with more essential nutrients and fibre if you include fish, cucumber and egg. If we take this obsession with calorie counting and sugar content too far, we may neglect our B and C vitamins, calciums and omega-3s.

The adage ‘eat in moderation’ never seemed to cut it with me, perhaps ‘Eat Less, Move More, Occasional Treat, Screw Macs’ may be a personal mantra that could work in the long run.