Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thanks For Telling Us Something We Don’t Already Know

Finally 2 pieces of real news in the papers today.

No. 1 News Concerning the National Intelligence Estimate

The National Intelligence Estimate or NIE, is the name of a report produced by a senior group of analysts under the U.S. National Intelligence director John Negroponte. The report, titled Trends In Global Terrorism: Implications For The United States was completed in April, but has been declassified and released this week on President George Bush’s order.

Here are some extracts of the report in the Straits Times:

“The war in Iraq has become a cause celebre for Islamic extremists and is breeding deep resentment of the United States that is likely to get worse before it gets better.

According to the bleak report ….. the threat from Islamic extremists has spread in numbers and in geographic reach, despite serious damage to the leadership of Al-Qaeda.

If this trend continues, threats to US interest at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.”

No. 2 Mona Lisa was a new mother

Canadian scientists used special infrared and three-dimensional technology to peer through hitherto impenetrable paint layers of Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century masterpiece.

Curator Bruno Mottin of the French Museums’ Centre for Research and Restoration said that, on very close examination of the paint, it became clear that Mona Lisa’s dress was covered in a thin transparent gauze veil.

“This type of gauze dress was typical if the kind worn in early 16th-century Italy by women who were pregnant or who had just given birth.”

Impressive isn’t it? I am sure kiasu Singapore parents who read this article would want to encourage their kids to excel in science so that someday they too can make such earth-shaking discoveries for the betterment of mankind.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Please Tell Us Something We Don’t Already Know

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s recent remarks about the Chinese being marginalized in Malaysia have expectedly raised a storm across the causeway. Some journalists actually ponder if what he said was true. My question is, which Singaporean does not know that his Chinese friends in Malaysia are treated like second class citizens in their own country?

We work alongside highly qualified Malaysian Chinese professionals here everyday. Our children study alongside brilliant students who are unable to gain admission into their own universities. We listen to our relatives tell sob stories of how they have to do all the work whilst the Malay counterparts get promoted. We hear them condemn their own Chinese leaders in the MCA as a bunch of self-serving stooges. The list goes on and on.

The real question Singaporeans should be asking is, why did LKY make this type of unhelpful remarks at this time? Just when the anti-Singapore (in the words of veteran Malaysian journalist
Seah Chiang Nee) Dr Mahathir has dropped out of the scene and relations with Malaysia are mending nicely under Abdullah Badawi, why did he go and stir up the hornet’s nest? It’s none of our business. Certainly he knows that Asean members have always maintained a policy of non-interference.

Maybe he is worried that the recent squabble between the Mahathir and Badawi is getting out of hand and wanted to help by giving them a convenient distraction … Heck, what am I talking about?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Preparing For The Next World

I am sorry, but I just cannot resist blogging about my favourite politician. This blog is inspired by a recent article in the Straits Times.

The remarks by the Information Minister, Zainuddin Maidin in this article were of course prompted by Mahathir’s constant meddling in Malayisan politics. Zainuddin must have in mind the Tun’s promise made before his retirement that he would keep out of politics. According to a June 21, 1999 report (Mahathir not seeking senior minister post), Mahathir had said;

''When I retire, I retire. Like a good old man I will spend my time praying because my days are over ..… I have to prepare for the next world.''

In an apparent swipe (so what’s new) at our own (then) Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he said that he was not interested in assuming the position of senior minister.

In contrast, Mr Lee had made it very clear that he would never completely retire from Singapore’s politics. At the 1988 National Day Rally, when he discussed the leadership transition to Goh Chok Tong in 1990, he said;

“Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.”

Thank you dear Mr Lee for your concern for Singapore. But I think it’s better not to wait till then; why not do something now …. about the casinos and the moral decline of our society I mean.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Another World No. 1

Hurrah! We have achieved yet another World No. 1.

A report in today's Straits Times reads:

“Singapore is the easiest plaice in the world to do business, according to a World Bank study out yesterday.

It found that people setting up businesses here had far fewer hoops to jump through than in other countries.

That allowed Singapore – placed second last year – to knock New Zealand off the top spot.”

Now isn’t that a cause for celebration. But before you bring out the champagne, may I ask you to consider one other piece of news which I heard on Radio 938 Live yesterday evening.

A cleaner, who earns only about $600 or $800 a month, is being sued by Singtel for chalking up thousands of dollar of mobile phone bills (plus legal fees). Apparently, in our country, it’s not only easy to set up a business; it is also a breeze to open a mobile phone account. All you need is a letter of authorization and a photo-copy of your identity card. So the cleaner’s supervisor, claiming to be her son, was able to open several broadband internet and mobile phone accounts with different telcos; and chalked up thousands of dollars of bills. He has since disappeared and the police are unable to trace him.

I estimate that this poor lady, a divorcee with 2 sons, will have to slog to her dying day to settle her bills.

Okay, now you can bring out the champagne.

** By the way, setting up a company is easy here, but wait till you try to close it.