Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Claim by ESI that Singaporeans are the Happiest People in Asia (Online)

Calvin Chu Yee Ming, a partner at Eden Strategy Institute. "He has advised over a hundred Fortune 500 clients in more than 20 countries" [ESI]


Eden Strategy Institute (ESI) made headlines by claiming that Singaporeans are Asia's happiest people online.


Eden Strategy Institute

"Singaporeans are Asia’s happiest people online"

Today Online

"Contrary to perception — backed up by a Gallup poll last year that claimed the fewest number of adults here experienced positive emotions — a survey based on what people are saying on social media claims that Singaporeans are among Asia’s happiest people."

Jentrified Citizen

"Eden Strategy Institute (ESI) made a flawed claim that Singaporeans are the Happiest in Asia using a survey based on what people are saying on social media."
"Essentially, this survey was done without interviewing anyone for their views on whether they are happy or unhappy."

The Heart Truths

A rather comprehensive rebutal
"When I first saw the article, ‘Singaporeans among Asia’s happiest, says social media survey’ in the Today newspaper, I did not know which part of the article to pick on, because every part could be easily refuted."
"only 5 countries were surveyed in this index and they are all in the South and Southeast Asian region."
"Eden Strategy Institute is actually based in Singapore"


I think this survey result will make people even angrier than they already are. They will probably be even more vocal to voice out their dissatisfaction fearing that their grievances have not been heard.
I now also have much less respect for ESI and the associated people due to this very dubious Happiness Index Score. This issue does not reflect very well on the abilities of Singapore companies.

The Claim that Sarawak Dirty Money is Hidden in Singapore


Global Witness, an international NGO, has caught on video, a conversation with a Kuching-based lawyer, Alvin Chong who claimed that transactions have been done in Singapore to avoid real property gain tax.


Global Witness

Video of the sting operation.

Yahoo! Singapore

"GWIs there no communication between Singapore and here?
Chong: That's why we choose Singapore. The Singapore government has a China Wall... a firewall. They will not tell the Malaysian government nothing.
GW: Is that because the Malaysian government don't ask them?
Chong: They ask them but they've been turned down. Sorry, it's none of your business... They are the new Switzerland. We operate Singapore accounts too, both personal and corporate entities."

New York Times

"For $650 more, A&P offered to open a bank account to stash my fledgling operation’s money in Singapore — a country, the Web site also noted, that “cannot gather information on foreigners’ bank accounts, bank-deposit interest and investment gains under domestic tax law.”"


In long term, it is politically unwise and economically unsound to allow criminals to stash their money in Singapore. The reputation of Singapore as an orderly, law-abiding country is being damaged.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Wikileaks Revelation of Singapore

Thanks to Wikileaks, we know what the diplomats were thinking


"The United States diplomatic cables leak, widely known as Cablegate, began in February 2010 when WikiLeaks—a non-profit organization that publishes submissions from anonymous whistleblowers—began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates, embassies, and diplomatic missions around the world." [Wikipedia]


Wikileaks: Singapore Embassy

Original Wikileaks cables

Diary of Singaporean Mind

Summary of interesting facts about Singapore from Wikileaks. "Deliberate lack of transparency in Temasek Holdings", "Govt does not want more Singaporeans to have degrees", "Lack of independence of Singapore judiciary in political cases", "Sustainablility of Singapore economic model", "Singapore's uncaring elite", "Frustration among Singapore journalists over govt control"


The content of the cables indicate that the 'internal' policies can be different than 'external' policies which are known to the public. The cables also suggest that public perception is affected by the lack of information available to the masses.

The Freedom of Press

A group of Singaporean independent activists held a demonstration outside the Singapore Press Holdings’ News Centre building on May 3 2008 via TOC.


"2012 Freedom of the Press report"..."classified Singapore’s level of press freedom as 'Not Free'”. [TRE]


The Guardian

"The media is largely state-owned. Defamation and contempt laws threaten dissent."

Yahoo! News Singapore

"WikiLeaks: Significant gov’t pressure put on ST editors"

TR Emeritus

"At 149, Singapore’s ranking is worse than countries like Cambodia (143), Congo (142), Ethiopia (137), Zimbabwe (133), Libya (131), Angola (130), Algeria (125)."


I pity the journalists working at SPH having to work under such strict control. It is also very difficult for SPH to regain the trust and credibility lost which causes it to lose some readers.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The AIM Town Council Saga

Issue broke after Aljunied-Hougang GRC was taken over by Workers Party


"Ms Lim also asked earlier why the 14 PAP town councils, which had developed the system, had transferred the ownership to AIM, a third party. In fact, it was revealed by Ms Lim that the system was sold to AIM in Jan 2011 and the TCs would then lease back from AIM which was registered as a $2 company"..."AIM offered to buy the software for $140,000 and manage the system for a monthly fee of $785 per TC or $10,990 for the 14 PAP TCs:" [TRE]


Yahoo! News Singapore

"Which party wanted to terminate AIM contract first?"

The Real Singapore

"Interesting History of AIM Pte Ltd"

TR Emeritus

"Hence, in the current 5-year Govt term till 2016, AIM would stand to make $10,990 x 60 months = $659,400. It’s not bad for a $140,000 initial investment, giving a return of 371%!"


Questions are being asked about transparency in Singapore. Businesses will also worry about the perceived disadvantage in finding business opportunities while competing with companies such as AIM.

The 16 Feb 2013 Protest Against Population White Paper

5000 people were estimated to attend the event via Singapore Election Watch


A gathering was organised to show displeasure against the government's Population White Paper. The upper estimate of 6.9 million people by 2030 angers many people who are already complaining of overcrowding. In June 2012, the population was 5.31 million [Population White Paper].


Yawning Bread

Summary of talks and videos. "The protest held on Saturday, 16 February 2013, against the government’s 6.9 million population White Paper saw the second largest crowd ever at Hong Lim Park."

Facebook Event

"Protest against the 6.9 million population target by 2030. We welcome foreigners to join us for the event as we are discussing mainly on the flawed policies of the government."


Showing displeasure by gathering at a designated public place peacefully is better than rioting and throwing expletives online. Attending such event is also a way to display disagreement. This is better than bottling such emotions and harbouring negative emotions. In other words, it is a stress-relieving event.

The Population White Paper

Thousands of people gathered to show displeasure regarding Population White Paper via Al Jazeera


"The paper, released by the National Population and Talent Division, said the total population could range between 6.5 and 6.9 million by 2030." [Yahoo! News Singapore]


Yahoo! News Singapore

"The projection sparked furious online reactions from citizens, with some saying it was time to emigrate."

Al Jazeera

"An aging population coupled with dwindling birth rates, escalating housing prices, overcrowding, and caving infrastructure are just some of the factors responsible for the rising dissent among Singaporeans."


Singapore is already one of the most crowded countries in the world. Further growth in population will only lead to larger problems associated with overcrowding. Are there plans to tackle these problems? How do we expect the population to change after 2030?

The Argument that Economic Growth Requires Population Increase

More people, more economic activities, higher economic growth? via TRS


The Population White Paper generates much debate and opinions about the links between economic growth and population.

These 4 are Vice Presidents of the Economic Society of Singapore. "The debate on the Population White Paper has surfaced a number of myths and fallacies that seem to dominate the current discussion on Singapore's population policies."..."Myth #3: Denser, larger populations create significant economic benefits for cities."..."Economics is not, and should not be, the only lens through which we examine, analyse and debate our country’s population policies."


I think whether economy grows in tandem with population growth depends on the quality of the population. Add an entrepreneur to the population and new economic activities are generated. Add a low skilled foreign worker to the population and no new economic activity is generated.

The Treatment of Lynn Lee

Lynn and James from Lianain Films


Lynn Lee is a film director from Lianain Films. She interviewed two PRC bus drivers who went on strike. The two PRC bus drivers complained of ill treatment in their interviews. Lynn was then subjected to much questioning too.


Lianain Films

"It was during this interview that I started wondering seriously if I, rather than the alleged perpetrators, was the one being investigated."

Asian Correspondent

"What – or who – are the police actually investigating here?"


This story does not give a good impression of the police in Singapore.

The Pursuit of Dan Tan Seet Eng

One of only two circulated photos of Dan Tan via TNP


Dan Tan was accused of "fixing hundreds of football matches around the world." [BBC] "Dan Tan is still free somewhere in Singapore," [BBC]



"The New Paper obtained the latest edition of the Cremona investigation papers, which chronicle Tan’s alleged involvement in the rigging of 33 matches in Italy’s top two leagues, Serie A and Serie B, over the last two years."


"Neither the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Singaporean police or the country's anti-corruption agency would speak to me about match-fixing."
"The head of Interpol yesterday urged Singapore to move against one of its citizens who is considered to be a key suspect in global football match-rigging, after one of his alleged associates was arrested in Italy."


This is another challenge for the legal system, specifically the police to be seen as upholding justice and not condoning criminals.

The Death of Shane Todd

Shane Todd in Singapore via Financial Times


Shane Todd was an American engineer who worked at IME, Singapore. He was found dead but his family was not satisfied with the investigation handled by the Singapore police.


Financial Times

“Are you saying the Singapore police are corrupt?” ... "[Shane's father] said he wasn’t accusing the police of corruption; he was accusing them of mishandling the investigation."

New York Times

"The real reason for his death? Their son may have known too much about plans for a research project apparently involving the Institute of Microelectronics, a Singapore government research agency where he worked, and Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, to co-develop a device powered by gallium nitride, they believe."


Video of news. "CNN's Miguel Marquez looks at the possibility that Shane Todd was murdered."

Shane Todd Justice Petition

Facebook page with updates on the case


This story serves as a cautionary tale to people who work in sensitive industries. It is also a test for the Singapore legal system, specifically the police.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Without civil rights for everyone, Obama won't be the President of USA


Singapore has not signed this international civil rights treaty.



"is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976. It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of March 2012, the Covenant had 74 signatories and 167 parties."


I don't see any reason why Singapore should not sign this international treaty.