Saturday, January 26, 2013

Singapore in need of bird bath, please

It's a hot season in Singapore and the demand for water will increase. There isn't any problem for the people, but it creates a big problem for other cohabitants. In any modernized and big cities, water source is never sufficient for the wild (e.g. Birds, squirrel, insects) and semi-wild (e.g. strays) cohabitants because of inaccessibility to (or danger of) the drainage system for water, particularly birds.

In other countries, bird baths are made available for birds (who are most affected by heat as they are most exposed to direct sunlight). The accessibility to water source is crucial for their survival, especially in hot weather.

In Singapore, bird bath is close to nil. The reason being, stagnant water breeds mosquitoes and among them are pathogen carriers, e.g. dengue or malaria. To instal water source, an innovative means of filtering and killing off mosquitoes larvae will be needed, but lacking. That is why, sadly, there isn't any available water source for birds, squirrels, butterflies, bees, strays etc. over here.

Surely it isn't difficult to design a way to provide water to the wild or semi-wild without the mozzies.
I wonder when will the day come when we can see birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, squirrel, perching onto baths for water, surrounded by gardens? It would be beautiful.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gullibility with a heart misplaced...

Beggars. They are global problem. In some countries, begging is a lucrative business and to be successful, sometimes innovative measures are employed to gain more sympathies. Some to the extreme of abduction and mutilation of victims for that purpose. In Pavlov's theory, the practise of giving money will encourage more begging, which have been proven to be true and a problem in some countries. If we want to help, stop giving money (easy way) and start helping (e.g. write to government, seek social welfare on behalf of beggars, give necessary items like clothes, water and food).

In Singapore, it is illegal to beg. However, there is a loophole and unsurprisingly, people are clever in manoeuvring loopholes for benefit; hence those who beg are seen holding tissue papers for sale. There isn't any price tag to the item. Sometimes I wonder, if this is charity or poison-in-disguise. In my opinion, it is always better to teach a person to fish rather than handing them the fish. Animals in zoos are result of unsolicited "charity" and they are not doing any good. What makes us think we are doing good to people by giving. The proper way should be to facilitate their independence on handouts.

In Singapore, guilt, sympathy and gullibility (and a sense of helplessness, i.e. our inability to better their lives) clouds our perception/judgement of this problem and hence the easy way would be to give without thinking about the implication of such action (e.g. reliance and grown dependency of beggars to handouts rather than thriving for independence and self-reliance).

If we really want to give, give money to street performers as appreciation and shun away from those who use kids (or disability as an excuse not to do anything) to gain sympathy.

Am I heartless to only help those who want to help themselves? Who are more deserving help, those who want to improve or those who rely on (or misuse) sympathy and charity?

Ruling supporter with opposition mindset

For efficient government, 2/3 majority is a must or else nothing will ever happen (or it happens at snail speed). That would be detriment to a country's competitive edge as more "bureaucratic traps (or stalemates), means delays.

For a good ruling (or government), it should have a healthy set of members of dissenting views. These members should be team players, i.e. for the good of the team, discord should be settled behind closed door. Frequent deliberation of plan, policy or implementation within party will prepare ruling for whatever salvo that comes from opposition (who in my opinion, is out there to see ruling trip and fall rather than help). In politics, opposition is more of a competitor rather than friend. The instinct to see to it that ruling fail is a survival instinct. Balance and check is just euphemism for waged war to win seats at the expense of other party. No ruling party in power wants their majority less for the sake of balance-and-check; not even when opposition becomes the ruling party. To me, it's bigotry to idealise balance-and-check while both parties are constantly fighting for majority.

Now, it all depends on ruling (or coalition) party. Is there means to voice dissenting views from within, and deliberation afterwards to gain consensus (or compromise)? A healthy ruling party should have critics within and healthy dissent, while simultaneously giving the enemy the impression of formidability.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Opposition, opposing for name sake?

Democracy. A country with this system of governance will have ruling and opposition. The latter designation is improper and counter-productive. The term "oppose" suggest that the loser in general election is destined to blindly oppose whatever implementation or plan by ruling party, regardless of fact or rationale. Unfortunately, it is true that opposition often drum up "bad results" by ruling while keeping quiet when "good results" occur, which is unfair, but a must for opposition's survival in a democratic society. There is constant competition between ruling and opposition, which its really unhealthy and detriment to a country's growth. Why oppose for the sake of opposing?

There is always risk involved in whatever plan or venture by ruling (aka government). In Singapore, the Youth Olympic Game (YOG) was a risk worth taking as it could boost both Singapore's brand as well as increase tourists arrival. In addition, the improvement on sport facilities and other infrastructure will prove useful post-YOG, as these facilities/infrastructure will benefit Singaporeans. They could also be reused for other games in the future. Moreover, the rights for broadcasting the Game was expected to increase revenue from advertisement etc... All these benefits are not factored in when Opposition drummed up the fact that (1) there were glitches, (2) overspending due to underestimation of cost etc. which is really unfair.

Another venture the government risked for the betterment of economy was the development of integrated resort, with casino as one of the attractions. Opposition again highlighted the negative implication without looking at the whole picture. Opposition suggested that casino will increase gambling problem, without considering that (1) measures were taken by authority to monitor and stop problem gamblers, (2) illegal gambling dens have been there in Singapore, e.g. Geylang etc with its associated Ah Long (loan shark) before integrated resort was mooted, (3) benefit of integrated resort far outweighed the cons, e.g. increasing jobs and tourist arrival.

Next, F1 in Singapore. Some complained about this as well. What a success it proved. The revenue from tourist arrival was amazing. The revenue from advertisement brought about by broadcasting the event was super. F1 will definitely stay and it will surely contribute to Singapore's economy.

Now, if the government don't do anything, there will not be anything worth looking forward to. "No venture no gain" as we all know it, and if the government listen to Opposition most of the time, there will be nothing to implement, nothing to venture, nothing to develop and nothing for nothing.

So please, in a democratic society, please please.... Opposition need to grow more mature in dealing with matters pertaining to Singapore. Sometimes, give ruling some slack if there is failure in ventures (as risk is always there no matter how well the plan had been) and do pat ruling's back if they did well. After all, when Singapore prospers Singaporeans prosper as well. As for now, that ideal is an impossible task because no one wants to be the loser for long and politics is a dirty game. That is why, shit is everywhere, even in Opposition.

Take for example, the Opposition tried to please the populace by promises of giving "handouts" when Opposition is in power. We must understand where the money will be coming from, from this promised handouts by Opposition. It will surely be the national coffer (from ventures and risks taken by ruling in generating this saving). That money is not Opposition's to promise as handouts! What shameless and irresponsible audacity. I could promise each Singaporean a palace too by spending the coffer if I'm in power, but that would make me deceitful!

Are we going to end up as the US in spending national coffer? Over there, it's always a race to dry up the national coffer before the end of next term and after which wait for the other party to clean up a shitload of debts. I worry Singapore will sink if that happens.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cyclists in Singapore

Cycling to work and back (or for leisure or errands) is a healthy and eco-friendly alternative. However, in Singapore there isn't enough designated and proper path for cyclists and hence they encroach (not that it's illegal) pedestrians walkways.

If we understand the common rule (or sense) on road safety, we should know that vehicles at the rear should be extra caution of the one in front and in-coming vehicle should not encroach on the wrong side of the road. But there isn't any common sense for this rule for most cyclists. Most of them are akin to road hogs, they sound their bell and assumed that people in front of them will move away in time. Some of them sound their bell at a distance away while travelling at full speed assuming that if there are people, they will be able to pin-point where the cyclist is and move out of the way on time. But how about the elderly, pregnant ladies, kids etc? Will they be able to move out of harm's way or would they be knocked down by irresponsible and senseless cyclists?

I am a cyclist and no matter how pressed for time I am, I will never jeopardise other peoples' safety, especially pregnant ladies and the elderly. It is because of other irresponsible cyclists that gives the perception that all cyclists are bad.

If only we can educate these clueless cyclists about the above golden rules, we will be able to minimise risk to our loved ones while they are on the walkways:

  1. Ringing of bells doesn't mean you can pass a narrow path, or in crowded area swiftly. You should allow ample time for response, and decrease your speed. If necessary, walk with your bicycle until you are clear and safe to commence with cycling. Say, "thank you" always regardless of response or lack of.
  2. Never startle people by ringing of bells (or repeatedly), especially to the elderly or pregnant women. You might even get bashed up for startling some guys.
  3. The rights for using the walkway will always be of pedestrians. Cyclists are encroaching their space and should respect this. Ringing of bells for clear access is obnoxious and disrespectful and should not be practised. If you try this on the main road while driving, you will land yourself in deep shit. However, pedestrians do tolerate the above if it is done properly without risking their safety, and followed by gratitude.
  4. Never cycle pass people at high speed (or zig zag zoom) because their startled response could end up in a collision or fall. The elderly and pregnant ladies are more susceptible to being startled and can injure themselves badly. If you are this type of cyclist, beware!

Sorry, there is no taxi available in your location

Staying in a dead-end loop makes fetching a taxi impossible in Singapore. Calling for one comes out dry most of the time when taxi is needed. Now, what is wrong here?

First, where are the alternatives? I wouldn't really mind if we have more alternatives. If there is sheltered walkway (with ramps and wheel-chair/pram accessible) all the way to place of destination (even if it's 2 to 5 km walk), I WOULDN'T MIND. Unfortunately, this is rare (almost none).

Talk about buses, I favour buses more than taxi. Buses ply almost all strategic places in Singapore, BUT travelling from home to stops is very inconvenient, unless these stops are just outside your block. I'm saying this because, there just isn't enough sheltered walkway (and wheelchair/pram friendly). Carrying an umbrella isn't a problem for most individuals, but try travelling in a pack with some members requiring wheels to move and you have a big problem.

Owning a car is a luxury in Singapore especially considering that a "permit" (aka COE) to own one is so exorbitant in cat-eats-dog auction system, whereby theoretically a person rich enough can own more than one car. So forget about it.

Due to COE and cost of owning a car, those services requiring transportation (or car) will reflect this cost. Hence, car rental in Singapore is expensive in terms of dollar per day, rendering this alternative as expensive and inaccessible to most households (assuming that most have driving license to begin with, because cost of getting one is high as well).

To cycle to a destination poses the same problem as walking. There isn't a strategic (as well as designated) stretch of path that is sheltered and wheel friendly. Cyclists share same walkway as pedestrian and this poses danger to the latter. From the look of things, it's encouraging to see that there is significant number of people travelling by bicycle where they park their wheels at MRTs to take public transport to work, thereby alleviating road jams.

This brings me to MRTs. I love MRTs, they are the most convenient and fast means of travelling (without factoring recent breakdowns). However, it still share the same problem as walking and cycling, i.e. NO SHELTERED PATH from home-to-MRT-to-destination and vice versa.

So, are there any other alternatives? I guess whatever the alternatives, they all boils down to the common need for the proper walkway/path that are sheltered, wheel friendly, safe, well lit, ubiquitous (or strategically linked) etc. which is really lacking.

Placing more vehicles on the road won't really help and increasing taxi on the road won't do either. The reason is, we don't really need taxi most of the time; however, when we do need them, they are never enough or it willl be too jam (e.g. infrastructure limitation). So just forget about increasing vehicles on the road and start focusing on making travelling by foot or wheels a much more accessible and convenient alternative (as this will encourage more people opting for public transport).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poor leading the poor? Are we nuts?

Singapore Punggol by-election is looming. News are aplenty on this event. Few caught my attention, as well as the comments. The sentiment that most perplexed me is "only the poor will understand and fight for the poor, whereas rich are bad".

What? Are you serious? Isn't it akin to the poor leading the poor?

Mind you, rich and successful people comes from poor family background too, and the hurdles and hardship they scaled in order to reach that state is worth emulating. I believe Dr Koh is such people.

For me, I'm sure I want a leader who can guide me to success rather than someone who "understand" my hardship but clueless of what to do about it.