Saturday, 24 July 2021
Thursday, 25 June 2020
January 31, 2019 -- I picked up a sixty-something Chinese man in Jurong and drove him to the airport, a thirty-minute ride, at 4 a.m. He told me he worked for many years as an accountant in various MNC and was leaving Singapore for good. He was joining his son in New Zealand and planned to work part-time or retire there.
"Why are you leaving Singapore for good?," I asked him.
3. The Medisave accumulated a total of S$102 billion, but only S$1.1 billion, or only 1% could be withdrawn for direct medical expenses.
Again, most of the rest of the 99% is invested in the GIC, and accessible by Temasek Holdings.
4. The MediShield Life, accumulated a total of S$8.3 billion, but only S$1.0 billion or only 12% were paid out in claims.
Again, GIC invests most of the rest of the balance, which is also accessible by Temasek Holdings.
5.60% of a HDB flat price goes to land costs–land which the PAP owns and profits from.
Again, the land money goes to GIC, and Temasek Holdings.
Singapore is rich but most Singaporean are poor because most of the money is used to empower and enrich the GIC, and Temasek Holdings in their investment activities. How much of their investment gains is utilized to help poor Singaporeans?
6. With no minimum wage policy, there is negative real wage growth over the last 15 years. For political reason, PAP prefers to pay wage subsidies disguised PAP's assistances instead of implementing a minimum wage scheme.
11. PAP initially kept secret its pro-foreign businesses and labor policies because it knew it was screwing Singaporeans. Out of 3.8 million workforces in Singapore, 1.5 million (40%) are foreigners.
14. Foreign students taking away places in local schools and universities that could have gone to Singaporeans.
A question that puzzles my whole life is "Why 65% - 70% of Singaporeans are voting PAP, elections after elections?. Why?
I'm a loyal Singaporean in my twilight years. I love Singapore but never voted for PAP. I do not trust them, period.
Friday, 29 May 2020
|My corridor garden in May 2017.|
Taking an old sage's advice, "if there's a will, there's always a way", I felt my ignorance should not be a deterrent because I could access a wealth of free knowledge and advice from the Internet like Facebook groups. Indeed, the modern internet is a miracle for human progress and enjoyment.
In my halcyon days, I spent my school holidays in my maternal grandmother's large sprawling farms, filled with tropical fruits, flowers, and roses that she nurtured with immense labor and love for the enjoyment of her grandchildren but she never allowed her grandchildren to dirty their hands at gardening.
Three years ago, I decided to have my own garden perhaps to kill my unproductive time in my twilight years rather than other novel aspirations.
I stayed in an ordinary HDB apartment without the luxury of a balcony, lawn, or plots of land like my maternal grandmother had, but I've two meters wide and five meters long common corridor with about six hours of morning sunlight.
More importantly, I have a wonderful young couple as a neighbor and they thankfully empathized with this old man's wish to keep himself busy with fulfilling activities in gardening.
Nevertheless, I always keep my corridor neat and clean with no stagnant water or cluster of rubbish for mosquitoes and cockroaches to raise their unwelcome families. My main worry is troubles from my town council's environment inspectors.
I reckoned my neighbors could also enjoy the greeneries and fragrant aroma of my garden as they passed by daily through an otherwise bare concrete corridor.
Incidentally, through the years I collected a few beautiful antiques looking flower pots that were discarded at my neighborhood junk bins. I never used them till the day I found my inspiration to start gardening.
At the beginning of my gardening adventure, I build different platforms and racks along the corridor to place my flowering pots.
After I erected and painted the brick racks and platforms, I had no idea what to plant, where to plant, what are the plant's needs, and how I like my garden to look like. Every single day thereafter I spent thinking, learning from Internet resources, and planning.
Initially, I planted a few easy growing flowering plants. I have no idea what were the names of the plants but when they survived and started to bloom, it brought me immense satisfaction, confidence, and a belief that I might actually have green fingers to begin a journey of faith in gardening.
A month later I decided to add more racks below my windows so that I have more planting space.
As I drove my cab around Singapore roads, private estates, and public parks, I scouted and stole suitable plants and cuttings for my infant garden. After a while, I found this illegal way of collecting plants rather nerve-racking and gave up.
At one time, I wanted to change my original plan of growing only flowering plants to include food and fruit plants but this ambitious endeavor failed miserably. All my vegetable and fruit plants died after germination.
Over the years, I have made a few mistakes, overcame a few but continue to challenge myself to perfect my skills. My aim is to know all my plants and deliver the right growth condition to them so they in turn reward me with beautiful and healthy flowers and fruits.
So here I am.
Today I have about 100 different plant types in my little garden. Fortunately, most are easy to care and require little or no attention other than occasional fertilizing and pruning but I like the challenge of growing my flowers from seeds or cuttings instead of buying from nurseries and flower shops.
As I regularly arrange my plants to form a tidy pattern and to get the best of the sunlight, I take pride in knowing that my corridor garden is the prettiest and largest in my block of apartments.
I'm happy to discover this enjoyable recreation in my retirement days and I pray for many more years to look after my little garden and enjoy the "fruits" of my labor.
Gardening had somewhat transformed my lifestyle and daily routine. Although I love nature, I was never a gardening person and my knowledge of horticulture is elementary. But on my retirement days, I found gardening is something physically easy yet spiritually enriching.
Gardening is also fun and I encourage those who are about to retire or already retired and have some space to develop a small garden.
Whether it's for pleasure or for fruits, it will help you to spend your time fruitfully.
I wish I had started several years earlier but like in many other things, it's never too late ....to start gardening.
Thursday, 28 May 2020
As promised, I'm back to continue with the true story of Mr. Chan (not Mr. Chua), the Charitable Singaporean Millionaire who singularly set up and run an orphanage in Batam, Indonesia with his own money.
Surprisingly, an anonymous person commented in my earlier post that the Charitable Singaporean Millionaire is Mr Chan (not Mr Chua). My apology.
Now, I would like to share with you his comments about Mr. Chan as a person and a boss to him for your reading pleasure.
"From what I know, there is only one boss from that big shipyard speaks “pure teochew”, sixty-something, skinny, soft-spoken, polite, but he rarely wears a short-sleeve shirt.
I hope I didn’t get it wrong.Or could it be one of his two brothers? which I don’t think so, neither of his brothers “co-owned” that business, and also, maybe not that rich.
Mr Chan was originally an Indonesian many years ago before he started his shipbuilding business; the “pure Teochew” is more an Indonesian accent.
I worked for him for a year or so when he had shifted to Jurong from Lorong Buangkok in the mid-’80s, he struggled quite hard in those days, with the kind of traditional management style and a soft heart; he did quite well but not really good before his big boss set up these yards in Batam and got it listed in Singapore.
He is a very nice boss, I’m glad to know that he has since “semi-retired”, a man like him, with a great heart, is more valuable to be him today (in the charity) than in the money-making business. I sincerely wish him all the best.
Eagerly waiting for your part 2, I would like to find out more about him and his orphanage house. And James, you take care and drive safe. Sorry for my poor English."
One example of his extreme resourcefulness and intelligence is his developing a 22 hectares virgin coastal land into the biggest shipyard in Batam, Indonesia, with three floating docks and huge adjacent engineering and fabrication facilities. He did all these WITHOUT paying a single cent to any professional consultants.
He also builds tugs & barges, cargo ships, oil rigs, oil tankers, livestock and cement carries, and ship conversion jobs. Mr. Chan did all these gigantic projects without even a diploma education or training in engineering practices but self-taught himself with a hungry and intelligent mind for details and hand-on experience.
His shipbuilding knowledge and engineering skill are astonishingly brilliant, comparable to any professional in the same line.
Fortunately, he met a Mr. Tan, who saw something "special" in him and they became partners till the day their Batam business was sold off to an Arabian company for billions in 2007.
Today, they are still partners in other business and remain good friends.
"Those early years of existence living and experiences helped me to shape my character, encrypted my motivation to never knee down to poverty. It taught me to deeply empathize with the very poor as a fellow human begins".
The dire faces of hungry orphans, as well as the lack of opportunities to escape poverty for the vast numbers of destitute, which he never forgot, were the key factors that motivate him to set up his orphanage in Batam.
"Presently, my needs are simple. I don't smoke, drink, or gamble. I don't splurge on luxuries, drive an expensive car or live in bungalow though I have the means to do it. I don't clamor for fame, demand respect or admiration because of my wealth. I don't exhort my friends and I lead my life as an example to them".
These days, the 60+ years-old Mr. Chan, who was once the CEO of the Batam facility of a main-board listed company in Singapore, wants nothing more than to spend his days at his orphanage, hoping to make a difference to the life of the kids there, not just with his money but more importantly, with his personal involvement and physical work.
His own children had grown up with professional careers of their own.
Now, let me share with you my short visit in 2013 and what I know of Mr. Chan's orphanage in Batam as accurately as I possibly can remember.
Mr. Chan, two of his friends and I visited the orphanage late afternoon one Saturday in 2013. It was my first visit to an orphanage and a day I'll remember for a long time.
About 20 kids, with ages ranging from 5 to 12 years old were at the gate, waving and screaming with joy as we arrived at the center.
"Selemat Datang, Bapak Chan", they screamed and surrounded Mr Chan, who was beaming with the kind of joy, only man with a heart of gold can appreciate. Certainly not the same kind of emotion an MP felt when grassroots leaders and guests stand up and greet him/her out of protocol.
The orphanage, called "Panti Asuhan Yayasan Padmila" is about the size of a half a football field and sits in a center of vast vacant land about a mile from the popular "Batam Holiday Inn Resort" at Waterfront Ferry Terminal.
The premises is half-walled and manned with a security post at a single entrance. The housing is two rows of concrete, single-story building with insulation roofing, each row measuring about 100 x 20 meters, and a courtyard in between.
Inside the housings were two aircon classrooms, kitchen, dining rooms, toilets, bedrooms, and an office. All these facilities were built to modern standards like a hotel with piped water and electricity. And the cost.....nearly a two million US dollars.
Mr Chan established the orphanage 4 years ago in 2009 to provide a safe home for the orphan, abused, destitute, and abandoned children in and around Batam Island.
These children are given a stable and loving home where they are fed, clothed, cared for, and schooled. They are also given personal and professional development activities with the aim of bringing them up with a strong foundation for a happy and healthy life after leaving the orphanage at a mature age of about 18 years old.
Children at the orphanage are NOT allowed for adoption and their ages range between 5 to 15 years. As the orphanage does not have baby caring facilities, no babies are admitted.
Like most orphanage centers, all children are under close supervision for their own well begin and character development. Transports are provided to send children of school-going age to national schools and frequent excursions to local events and festivities for integration with local communities are arranged.
"Mr. Chan, how much does it cost annually to run your orphanage and why you do it," I asked while sipping tea at the dining room with him alone
"Around half a million dollars annually. It's difficult to answer your second question". He replied and after a short pause, he continued...
"Honestly, I'm a humble man and do not wish to propagate or exaggerate my work. I did it because this is something I think it's worthwhile doing and I can do it quite easily with what I have. Please don't ask me to speak more on this matter".
I salute this humble and unsung hero. Mr. Chan is truly a person who has the vision, the dedication, and the kind heart in doing whatever it is need to be done in and out of Batam.
He is helping those who are unable to help themselves by helping them to help themselves.
Mr. Chan is unaware that I'm secretly writing about him in this blog. I'm amazed and honored that he was willing to trust and befriend a lowly taxi driver like me to share a small part of his life.
The children in his orphanage are, without doubt, fortunate to be taken under Bapak Chan's wings.
It’s forever a work-in-progress and I’m secretly spreading the word about P.Y.P. Orphanage and hope that somehow, somewhere and someway, my friends and strangers could reach out to them and make our contribution in whatever small way we could.
"Mr. Chan, what are your view of the current society and government we have in Singapore in terms of charitable works" I pressed on with our conversation.
"Mr. James, I'm not a highly educated man. Therefore, I can't answer your question again. But I can say that society and government can be better if everyone (including the government) is willing to do a bit more, either in action or in cash than what they are doing right now".
|My photo in 2016 with some orphans and the new building in the background.|
The orphanage had doubled in size to about 2 football fields and an increase in intake of about 100 young orphans. Some older orphans of above 18 years had left the orphanage to live and work on their own, usually with jobs recommended through Mr. Chua business connections.
A new three-story large concrete building, with 7 modern classrooms, a library, 2 IT facilities/rooms, an assembly hall, and 10 sleeping accommodations was erected next to the old building in 2014.
Behind the new building, a large plot of land is used as a farming area to cultivate and grow all kinds of vegetables and fruit trees. Adjacent to the vegetable farm is a large fish pond where local edible fish are reared.
I was told many orphans love to spend their extra-curriculum activities on the farm and fish pond. In a small way, they are self-sufficient in vegetables, fruits, and fish.
For older orphans who are more active and sport orientated, there is a modern basketball and badminton court adjacent to the new building for their recreation activities.
In conclusion, my parting prayers for this remarkable man, Mr. Chan, and all his benevolent friends who had contributed enormously to this orphanage in Batam, Indonesia......May God Always Bless You with Good Health and Long Life.
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
|A photo of the orphanage taken on 8th Sept. 2013.|
I always have a small notebook in my cab to note down particulars in case of an unfortunate traffic accident.
Occasionally, I used it to scribble brief details like a journal of an interesting character, any unforgettable encounter, or anecdotes that I might use later as my writing stock.
As it turned out, I accumulated a sizeable amount of materials in my worn-out journal enough to write a book but I don't think I ever do that as I prefer to pen them in this blog whenever I felt an urge or for whatever inexplicable reason.
Here is a heartwarming true story I wrote 7 years ago which I would like to share it with you again.
On a Tuesday morning many years ago, a call booking came in to pick someone at a Hillview Avenue condo.
Standing alone at the lobby was a skinny local Chinese man in his mid-sixties. He wore a white long sleeve shirt and beige colored pants, neatly ironed.
He looks ordinary and was smiling as I rolled into the lobby. Beside him were about ten cardboard boxes.
We had loaded the boxes in no time with him giving me a helping.
As he gingerly seated himself beside me, he politely told me in pure Teochew to send him to HarbourFront...ferry loading bay.
I guessed he must be a trader with business in Batam.
As I drove along, I asked him in Hokkien, "How is your business in Batam?".
His answer was an astonishing revelation of a sort.
"I don't have a business in Batam anymore" he answered slowly.
And after a long pause and looking straight into my eyes like a psychiatrist carefully examining his patient, he eventually continued hesitantly, "I used to co-own and run the biggest shipyard in Batam. After we sold our shipyard to an Arabian company, I'm now semi-retired.
"What are those boxes for," I asked with tongue in cheek.
Again, with some reluctance, he answered, "Goodies for kids in Batam"
At that point, many questions floated in my mind. "Why is this rich man, who lived in a condo and once owned and run the biggest shipyard, is now sending goodies to children in Batam. If this delivery is not for business, then what?"
I was intrigued and wanted to know more but I reminded myself to be tactful with my queries as he wasn't much of a conversationalist and perhaps age had made him taciturn.
After much careful deliberation, I asked him respectfully "Are the goodies for poor children in Batam"
On hearing my resonating question, his sleepy eyes brighten up and he spontaneously answered:
"Yes, I run an orphanage in Batam for charity and these goodies are for "my kids" there. If you want to know more about my orphanage, you're welcome to join me on my next trip there this coming Saturday.
I was shocked at his impromptu kind offer. Can I believe what I just heard from a total stranger?.
He passed me his name card when we reached his destination.
The only way to find out is to accept his invitation and follow him to his orphanage in Batam,
Wow!, here we have, a true blue pioneer Singaporean who built his wealth through sheer hard work and is now contributing back to society albeit in Batam, in making a difference in the life of many orphaned kids there.
Why he did that,?
What kind of orphanage he runs in Batam,?
What kind of a person is this remarkable Singaporean who runs his orphanage out of his own pocket money?
What are his personal motivations and views of the kind of society and government we have in Singapore? And many more.......
I'll answer these questions in my next post and also share an update of the orphanage as it is today.
Friday, 22 May 2020
|The plastic shield inside a taxi in Singapore|
"Uncle, you're a frontline hero, like doctors and nurses" exclaimed my neighbor as we crossed path one morning on our way to the market.
"No lah. I drive to earn a living only and I'm temporarily not driving.". I replied politely.
Yes, I couldn't believe my ears that someone like him who seldom talks to me would suddenly call me a hero. How does he know I'm a taxi driver?. Has he been spying on me or do I have a typical taxi driver's face and demeanor?
I always suspect him to be the kind of person who loves to socialize with the officers from our neighborhood community centers run by Peoples Association and I saw him volunteered at our PAP MP office during MP meet the people session. Somehow, I dislike and avoid such charlatan characters. In the wartime days during the Japanese Occupation, such louts would be categorized as "running dogs".
Anyway, I gave him my due courtesy as a normal neighbor would.
On reflection, I think he compared me, a taxi driver, to those truly heroic nurses and doctors treating critically ill COVIC-19 patients fighting for their lives in ICU in sarcasm, typical of people who walk with their nose in the air with authoritative state connections.
In contrast, I applaud those kind souls, whom he compared me to as admirable people who place their lives at risk of infection while in close contact with highly infectious patients. They are like firefighters inside a burning building trying to rescue trapped survivors. I salute them wholeheartedly.
From my years of taxi driving experiences, I think taxi drivers have always been the scorn of the general public for being rude, unscrupulous, and ignominious people, just to mention a few.
Surprisingly, during this COVIC-19 pandemic, taxis drivers are ludicrously considered essential services personnel, contributing to the well being and health of the overall community.
Like doctors and nurses, we're now recognized as frontline warriors ferrying infected passengers to quarantine centers and hospitals, with threats of contacting the coronavirus ourselves secondary to other considerations.
I have temporarily earned a recognition previously denied to me and my fellow goons. Overnight, I, the cockroach have become a scoring eagle.
Seriously, apart from this dubious transformation, the more tangible "benefits" a taxi driver gets during the current pandemic are:-
1. A reduction in taxi rental in March 2020 and free rental for two subsequent months with an extension possibility.
2. Under the Solidarity Budget, all self-employed people like property agents, home tutors, private sports coaches, and taxi drivers, automatically qualify for the Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (SIRS). The scheme will disburse three quarter cash payout of $3,000 - in May, July and October (total $9,000) to help such people to tide over the loss of income stemming from the COVIC-19 epidemic. Today, I received an sms from MOF informing me that I'll receive my SEF payout of $3,000 on 27thMay 2020. Hooray!
3. In an un-precedential move, ComfortDelGro will install a plastic shield inside its taxi to minimize contact between cabbies and passengers, reducing the spread of CONVID-19. The unbreakable V-shield covers the driver's cabin entirely and also serves as an added protection against "violent passengers".
Frankly, I'm stunned that ComfortDelgro is empathetic to the welfare of its drivers. A few years back, to save cost they unscrupulously requested their taxi manufacturer to dispense with the need for safety airbags in its fleet of taxis.
Needless to say, I'm now thrilled to learn that they have taken measures to enhance the safety and welfare of its drivers and hope such measures are not spurious or temporary but permanent features of their corporate policies.
4. To address the delivery slots shortages due to heightened demand for home deliveries because more people are forced to stay at home, taxis are allowed to deliver food and groceries till the end of September 2020.. Nevertheless, there is frivolous public concern that it would affect traditional taxi service and contribute to traffic jams.
Participating taxi divers could supplement their income during this unusual hard time and also gain experience in home-delivery in case they wish to switch to this line in the future.
In conclusion, I'll grab all the benefits I'm entitled but I'm determined not to drive a cab again as my defective eyesight is a danger to not only to myself but other road users as well.
All lives are worth safeguarding though some might be a low-life with money always not enough.
Sunday, 17 May 2020
|An Electrical Circuit Breaker|
I believe many of you are confined in your home and probably at your favorite monitor to work from home (WFH) or kill your time reading some interesting stories because of the "Circuit Breaker" rules during the current COVID 19 pandemic.
If it's the latter, we're in the same boat.
In this case, you may have heard or read some amusing anecdotes or extraordinary episodes of offenses committed in the last five months during the pandemic.
I would like to share with you some of the more unforgettable anecdotes and my derisive remarks on them.
My non-chronology of narratives went something like this:-
1. For the first time in Singapore, McDonald unprecedentedly suspended all their 130 outlets from April 9 until May 4 because seven of their employee were infected with COVID 19 virus.
McDonald employed more than 10,000 people in Singapore and serves more than 6 millions customer monthly.
Some disgruntled customers moaned that they are abruptly deprived of their "die-die must have" comfort food, have no ways to satisfy their 2 am hunger prang and screamed that whatever little normalcy they used to have is gone.
Therefore, when McDonald reopened their outlets after 23 days of suspension, queues at some outlets were ridiculously long of a few hundred meters with 1-meter social distancing in place.
Not only were there physical queues but also virtual queue online. Some patrons had to go through the virtual queue system before can they even get to the menu.
What's so good about McDonald fast foods and why are they so successful?.
In my 73 years of eating, I had at the very most eaten McDonald's chicken nuggets three times and McDonald's burger twice. Definitely not the kind of food I crave for unlike my loti-prata, laksa or chai kuay teow
Yet, McDonald is the largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world with more than 37,000 locations in about 120 countries.
McDonald is so successful not because they created the best hamburger in the world but because they created the best business system - a brand and customers buy their brand not their food. KFC, Nike, Starbucks, Levis, and many others are like McDonald.....an irresistible brand.
Indeed, most Singaporean were puzzled at her as remark..."I'm sovereign. This is something people are not going to know what it is".
Well, it seems that the origin of "sovereign" followers originated in the USA in the 1970s and was mostly influenced by white-supremacist and anti-Semitic groups.
These believers professed that they're citizens of no country, no need to obey any law, can choose rules to obey and which ones to ignore.
I can think of one true "sovereign" person here. She happens to be a top executive of our "Sovereign Fund" and she doesn't have to obey the rule in declaring her salary to anyone. Her salary is somehow a State Secret. Every law-abiding citizen has to declare their income or salary in their tax return but not this sovereign lady...she can choose to ignore the law...
3. As you know, in the span of just two months, 29 people were convicted for various offenses related to COVID-19 like breaching quarantine, stay at home notice, not wearing a mask, safe distancing, hurling vulgarities and harassing enforcement officers, operating a non-essential business, eating at a prohibited place and visiting/dining at a friend house.
Out of these 29 cases, I find two cases rather interesting involving the fairer sex and like to opine on them.
|Beauty Saloon Lady|
3a) The Massage Lady.
Mrs. Jin Yin, 55, a Chinese national, was convicted of operating a non-essential business and allowing a male customer into her saloon at Upper Cross Street for massage and masturbation for $150, during the "circuit breaker" period.
She cried hysterically in court and dropped to her knees to beg for mercy after the prosecution asked for $21,000 fine. She said she has only $3,000 left and a daughter in Beijing to raise
She also said that she committed the offense because of the debts she incurred after her mother contracted cancer.
The judge rejected her plea and adjourned the case to a pre-trial conference later this month.
She committed similar offenses previously,
On 10th. of June, she was convicted and fined $22,000.00. If she cannot pay the fine, she will have to serve eight weeks jail in lieu.
I guess a massage and stroking an organ would probably take no more than half an hour.
At $150 for half an hour job, it's certainly a very profitable work almost like our PM's job who is paid $376 an hour ($3.3million/365days/24hours).
The difference is she used her hands while our PM uses his brain but both are earning a living albeit in different ways.
|The Gusty Auntie|
A senior auntie who simply refused to budge at eating her food (kuay teow) at a hawker center during C.B. period and was willing to pay a fine of $300 got her wish granted.
Initially, when the enforcement officers kindly reminded her that she'll be fined $300 for breaking the C.B. rule, she got agitated, banged the table and said defiantly in Hokkien:
"It doesn't matter. I'm not afraid. You people are bullying me. My back ached when I've to walk home and my food will be cold than"
Eventually, her son came to pick her home.
This auntie reminds me of a rich friend who always refused to place a parking coupon whenever he parked in the "coupon area".
He loves to display his defiant and risk-taking nature at any opportunity.
I'm sure this auntie is not as wealthy as my friend but I salute her fearless stand albeit misplaced.
But look, how many people is as gusty her.
It's as simple as that.
Sunday, 10 May 2020
COVID-19 has devastated the whole world with almost 4.9 million infected cases and 320,000 deaths since it started at Wuhan China in December 2019.
Singapore is not spared.
We have the highest infection rate in South East Asia with about 28,800 cases and 22 deaths, a relatively low death rate of mainly elderly people.
In the beginning of COVID-19 in December 2019, our MIW (Man-In-White) took a lackluster approach in tackling the deadly decease and declared with slogans like "Not so serious as SARS", "No need to wear masks unless unwell", "No Social Distancing", no nothing.
Basically, it was business as usual with minimal economic and social disruption.
But two months later in February 2020, the rates of community infection and death climbed vertically north with hundreds of daily infections and the emergence of many sporadic disease transmission clusters all over the island.
This drastic escalation of infections shocked the MIW.
They quickly altered their tactics and implemented the self-coined "Circuit-Breaker" ( Lockdown ) from 7th April 2020 for tentatively 30 days, to wait and see.
With this Circuit Breaker implementation, instantaneously
- non-essential businesses were closed,
- people were barred from leaving their home except for buying groceries,
- everybody must wear a mask when outside their home,
- all schools closed and students were forced to take e-learning at home.
- social distancing at operating business outlets and transport services were enforced,
- nobody is allowed to visit anybody except those staying in the same address.
- parents were barred from bringing their babies to their grand-parents for daycare,
The whole island was almost like under curfew.
Now, looking at the statistic of infection figures here, the most alarming fact is the horrendously high infections among low-wage migrant workers compared to local citizens and permanent residents.
Out of 22,500 infected persons in Singapore, almost 90% (20,250) were low-wage migrant workers.
The first four infected migrant workers were detected at a dormitory (S11 Dormitory at Seletar Lin), owned and operated by PA grassroots leader on March 30,2020.
Shockingly, from 4 cases it increases to 20,200 cases within 40 days (505 cases/day).
What caused such a rapid increase in infection among the migrant workers and also why such a wide disparity between locals and migrant workers?.
The simple reason is that these low-wage migrant workers were housed in densely packed quarters in close proximity.
Presently, there are about 323,000 low-wage migrant workers in Singapore, who take on jobs shunned by Singaporeans in industries such as construction, estate maintenance and manufacturing, thereby making it possible for Singaporean's PMET to hold their jobs.
We must appreciate and be grateful that these poorly paid migrant workers help build Singapore's prosperity and formed the base of our economy.
Instead, from day one, almost all migrant workers were housed in purpose-built dormitories, largely owned and operated by MIW lackeys who made hundreds of millions annually.
Generally, each room in the dormitory is packed with 10 - 12 workers like sardines and they had to share common cooking, eating, washing, and toilet facilities.
Common sense will tell you that with such packed living quarters, it takes only one infected person to easily spread the COVID 19 to the rest of the dormitory community of thousands.
These 40 over dormitories with over-crowded living quarters are like time bombs waiting to explode long before the first COVID case.
Yet, our Mr. Tan Juan Jin, former Manpower Minister has the guts to say "Conditions in dorms NOT the main reason for cluster" and stupidly compared the worker's dorm to overseas student dorm.
In the same breath, he says "Outbreaks likely due to a highly contagious virus and people living in close quarters".
What an idiot!.
To read more of his explanation on how a hair is split like what he said above, click here
No wonder he is demoted from a minister to be just a Speaker of Parliament.
Not long ago, he was a hot favorite to be our future Prime Minister. Thank God has eyes.
Now, let me curtailed my political musing and ranting at our 4G leaders.
Instead, let me share with you some of my personal experiences and how I manage my time during this tough circuit breaker period.
As you probably know, on April 7th the original set of safe distancing measures to bend the curve of increasing local transmission which was supposed to end May 4th, were extended to June 1st.
After I stopped driving a taxi in December 2019 ( before COVID 19), I spent most of my time staying at home, tending to my corridor garden, drawing, cooking, and sleeping more than necessary. The Stay At Home rule, therefore, doesn't really affect me.
I'm categorized as "vulnerable seniors" which by the way appears to be the "politically-correct" term Singapore is now adopting to replace the term "elderly".
I've been out of my house only on alternate days to buy groceries at Sheng Siong and Giant supermarkets just in front of my house, with a mask on.
My desktop computer is now my best buddy during most of my waking hours.
I surf the internet like a bee in a honeycomb, watching YouTube videos on how to cook simple food, magic shows, Simon Cowell's "Got Talent Show ", and also watched a handful of very good movies on Netflix like Viking, Money Heist, Homeland and Dirty Money (an episode on Najib Rasak).
I would love to read some novels or non-fiction books but my defective eyesight damaged by glaucoma makes reading torture with splitting headache.
As I depart from this post, may I share with you some meaningful advice from my acquaintance's blog at http://lohandbehold.com/
"The Singapore Government has given everyone S$600/-. If being 600 bucks richer is important to you, then keep your money, if not, please consider offering a helping hand to our migrant workers by making a donation to MEANS (Migrants Emergency Assistant and Support) Community Impact Fund. Please click here
Many migrant workers communicate with their loved ones back home using text messages. If you want to make a small donation to top-up their SIM Card, please click here
"When God blesses you financially, don't raise your standard of living only. Also, raise your standard of giving".
"If you're more fortunate than others, build a longer dining table, not a taller fence"
These will remain as nice saying unless you actually do something about them.
Wednesday, 6 May 2020
|Pencil Portraits of my Childhood Friends.|
I don’t know if anyone still reads this blog…and I’m sure some people are peeved off as I have been silence for almost one year without explanation whatsoever.
Some might guess that I had kicked the bucket or had dementia, Covid 19 or whatever.
I understand that it’s a reasonable assumptions as I’m in my twilight years at 73 and life, as you know, is unpredictable.
But, thanks God, I’m still kicking and much alive, spared from tragic misfortune.
I guess while I’m here, I give a brief update of myself.
If you’re here reading this, you’re aware I don’t really write this blog anymore.
There are a lot of reasons.
The main reasons why I’ve been hesitant to post here lately is because I’m getting lazier as I get older and is planning to retire from all stressful work and activities as much as possible.
I certainly don’t want to disappoint anybody, especially my followers but I’ve to say frankly, if blogging paid my bills, I’ll probably do a lot more.
You may say I’m selfish but as you know, I live in the most expensive place in the world….Singapore.
Writing this blog has indeed given me much satisfaction but the truth is, for the past one year, the money I got from past traffic accident claims, CPF Life payments, allowances from my filial children and supplementary income from infrequent cab driving, are what’s helping me to get by.
Sadly, my health, specifically my eyesight is declining rapidly.
Last year, I had two near fatal traffic accidents.
In the first accident, a fully loaded trailer crushed into the rear of my taxi and sent my taxi crushing at the gentry’s barrier of an industrial car park.
Fortunately, I was belted and did not suffer any serious injuries except a hairline fracture at my elbow and knee.
The offending driver explained that his trailer had faulty brakes.
In the second incident in mid-2019, I almost killed a young student at a zebra crossing.
My right eye did not catch him crossing the zebra crossing and he avoided my cab by a mere inch as I cruised past him.
Had he walked a step more, I would have knocked him down with unimaginable injuries or death.
From this near fatal incident mainly because of my defective eyesight, I knew I had to stop driving but I need a supplementary income in expensive Singapore.
So, I drove sporadically for only one to two days a week till December 2019.
Then COVID 19 arrived in January 2020.
Thereafter, I stopped driving completely and planned to return my normal and taxi vocational license at the end of this year.
I'm now in semi-retirement.
I kept myself occupied with cooking, drawing, tending to my corridor garden and sleeping longer than necessary.
Maybe I’ll start a home based business like selling home cooked food or pencil portrait drawing to earn a small income. God Willing..
I would truly appreciate any suggestion.
|My Corridor Garden in a HDB Apartment.|