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Posts Tagged ‘Tan Chuan Jin’

Furniture buying

In News Reports, Politics, Society on April 10, 2015 at 10:12 am

The Cabinet reshuffle has led to speculation that the general election, due by January 2017, could be held early, according to a TODAY report. Plus, the PAP G can reap an “LKY dividend’’, from the goodwill demonstrated by the populace in the aftermath of the first Prime Minister’s death. It’s a minor reshuffle, with Mr Masagos Zulkifli elevated to full minister and becoming second minister in both the Home and Foreign ministries and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew taking on a second portfolio.  Messrs Lim Swee Say, Chan Chun Sing and Tan Chuan-Jin have done some portfolio swopping. Me, I am still tickled by the idea of our multi-tasking Cabinet, who are members of the A team, said the Prime Minister.

So I went furniture shopping…

Me: I’m looking for some cabinet…can you advise me please?

Salesman: What sort you looking for? Kitchen cabinet? Shoe cabinet?

Me: Actually, something more multi-purpose…can put shoes, books and all kinds of knick knacks. Maybe for the living room…And maybe another for my bedroom with drawers for underwear and cold weather clothing.

Salesman: For living room ….how big?

Me: Ah…something adjustable, stackable. In case, I accumulate more stuff over the years…Somethings I just cannot throw away, you know…last forever.

Salesman: You want with glass panels or open shelving? Glass can show off your ornaments….Or you want them covered so you can hide stuff …

Me: Hmmm…open shelving must dust everyday…But very good to show off my Lee Kuan Yew books. But maybe put at the bottom because they are very heavy. Some glass doors for me to show off stuff I’ve bought from abroad or some sg50 mementoes…

Salesman: Different size compartments? All same size? We can stack small ones and some got double the size. Or we can have separators within compartments.  Everything adjustable…

Me: Maybe some have two separators so I can put stuff of different colours in one stack…Hmm…your cabinets come in white? Difficult to maintain or not? Can get rid of stains easily?

Salesman: Don’t worry Ma’am. We have all sorts of cleaning fluids. Just dab and like bleach, stains go off. Case-trusted and CPIB-approved. But don’t use too much or the wood will get rotten…

Me: What? Your cabinets all made of wood? I thought something stronger…

Salesman: Ma’am, then you looking for filing cabinet – we have cast-iron one…

Me: Don’t need filing cabinets…got computer. Just sell me one living room cabinet, soft compressed wood, white, with big and small compartments and shelves that can adjust up and down. Some got glass panel, some don’t. Do you have shoe cabinet?

Salesman: Of course! Very cheap. Very good. But stock only come in October.

Me: Aiyah, I think don’t need then…I buy from NTUC.

Salesman: Okay ma’am. I have a Class A type living room cabinet for you. Very good to display, very multi-purpose. People see …sure to go waaah…I can also offer you Class B type cabinet for your bedroom. For your socks and all that…Sometimes, can put in living room as well if living room cabinet suddenly collapse because you put too many things….

Me: Your stuff so lousy ah???

Salesman: Not lousy. Very good. Don’t believe me you just ask people…they will all kee chiu…

Me (dubious): Hmm…how much and when can you send over?

Salesman: Depends on how many compartments and how big each compartment. But don’t worry, still below market rate. Let me calculate…

Me: I don’t mind paying if you sure it’s good quality…so when delivery?

Salesman: Arhh Ma’am, you have to carry home yourself and assemble yourself. Got instructions…very easy to follow….Ma’am! Ma’am…don’t run away…Still haven’t shown you our kitchen cabinets!

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One Cabinet and musical chairs

In News Reports, Politics on April 9, 2015 at 12:28 pm

The problem with reporting on news of a Cabinet reshuffle is that no one wants to say anything bad about anyone. So if someone gets promoted or moved, commentators will try to second-guess the Prime Minister’s intentions, and invariably come up with answers to fit the PM’s choice. No one says, not in public anyway, that he/she botched up the job and so got moved to another. Nor would anyone say that so-and-so’s posting is a sop to a segment of the population or because of intensive lobbying.

That’s what makes reporting Singapore politics so dull – everybody wants to be politically correct. (It really is the best thing to do since acceptable guesswork is better than negative speculation.) Of course, privately, everyone has their own ideas or conspiracy theories about what’s really happening behind the scenes. And because of the general election has to be held soon, everyone makes a link, even though there might be none.

What did the PM say? “These changes are part of continuing leadership renewal, to build a strong ‘A’ team for Singapore.’’ Gosh, I wonder if the PM realizes that the use of an A team means there is a B team, in reserve…If he does have a B team, we should be glad – because there seemed to be so few people we can draw on that the Singapore Cabinet has to play musical chairs and with some people straddling two chairs…

So what’s the big news this time around? MSM went to town with how the Malay/Muslim community now has a second full minister in Mr Masagos Zulkifli, besides Dr Yacob Ibrahim who is Muslim Affairs minister and minister for Communications and Information.

The PM said having two full ministers reflects the “progress of the Malay community’’ and observers have echoed this.

Said former NMP Eugene Tan in a commentary in TODAY: “This demonstrates the coming of age of the role of Malay politicians in our national leadership. And they are handling significant portfolios at the full ministerial level. While numbers should not be the sole measure of political relevance and effectiveness, the fact that Malay ministers are tasked with handling non-traditional and even sensitive portfolios is significant.’’ (I suppose he’s referring to Mr Masagos being second/second minister in Home and Foreign ministries – each now has a truly multi-racial team at the helm. In Home affairs: Mr Teo Chee Hean, Mr S Iswaran and Mr Masagos. In Foreign affairs: Mr K Shanmugam, Ms Grace Fu (female somemore!) and Mr Masagos.)

Then you have ….

Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC: “This would definitely dispel the notion that there is a racial quota with regard to the number of full Cabinet ministers that the Malay community could have.” (There is no quota…this is a meritocracy no?)

National University of Singapore (NUS) political science don Hussin Mutalib: “it helps to soothe the feelings of the community, since the … Indian community, despite being smaller than the Malay community, has always had a larger and disproportionate share of Cabinet appointments”. (So there should be a quota rather than a system based on meritocracy?)

NUS  political science lecturer Bilveer Singh: “It’s good for the country and it’s healthy for democracy, because I think the Malay community has made a lot of progress and this is symptomatic of the progress that the Malay community has (made), and they should be represented at the highest level.” (And what about other communities, like the Eurasians or women? No progress?)

Association of Muslim Professionals chairman Azmoon Ahmad: “It will create impetus for the community and encourage us and give us the confidence that Malays can succeed.” (What are you saying? That Malays lacked confidence in the past about succeeding?)

Before you pounce on me…I want to quickly say that I exaggerated my remarks in the parentheses to make a point: I so dislike this idea of connecting representation to race/community.

I would rather people say that Mr Masagos got promoted because he has all the right qualities for the job. Period. It is not a reflection on his race/community – whether progress or regress. After all, we do not encourage stereotyping by race do we? Like connect certain negative attributes to certain communities? Likewise, I wouldn’t make a big deal if a woman breaks through the glass ceiling of any company or in the Cabinet. She’s a good, capable person – who happens to be a woman. Just like Mr Masagos is a good, capable person – who happens to be Malay.

Now, I had someone tell me that I can’t understand because I am not a member of the community. Correct. But it would distress me to think that the Malay community needed such assurances that a Singaporean. regardless of race, cannot rise to the top of the tree based on pure merit. Or that it needed to be “soothed’’ because other communities have “got ahead’’.

Dr Hussin said something else which puzzled me: That ‘some quarters may look at his Islamic profile with a certain unease’’. Hmmm. What does that mean? I looked up his community credentials for clues. All I got was that he chaired Muslim welfare group Perdaus, and started its humanitarian offshoot Mercy Relief…

Then comes this musical chairs over the NTUC, Manpower ministry and Ministry of Social and Family Development.

So NTUC’s Mr Lim Swee Say who had publicly stated that he would like to retire isn’t about to be allowed to. He’s going to MOM. Only in Singapore can you have someone jump from one side of the fence to the other. In fact, right across the line. In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Lim assured unionists that he will continue to be “pro-worker” while also being “pro-business”. “After all, the two are not necessarily in conflict. They are the two sides of a same coin.” You don’t say!

You have pundits agreeing about this ideal situation – and it really makes me wonder why people just don’t suggest a direct switch – MOM’s Tan Chuan-Jin should go to NTUC then instead of moving to Ministry of Social and Family Development! But of course, people can always make a case for this switch, like how he’s “well-placed” for the job since he had to deal with workers in difficult situations.

But I was most puzzled by this statement in the ST report regarding Mr Chan Chun Sing:

Meanwhile, the labour movement will get a new chief earlier than expected. Mr Chan, 45, who is now NTUC’s deputy secretary- general, will take over as secretary-general on May 4. He was previously expected to be voted in as labour chief during the next NTUC central committee elections in October.

Now, it looks as though it was the PM who decided that Mr Chan should be NTUC sec-gen. Yet much was made about Mr Chan having to get endorsement from the NTUC rank-and-file at its delegates’ conference in October.

Anyway I checked. The NTUC Central Committee promoted Mr Chan from deputy to full sec-gen yesterday morning. (Yup. Well-timed). And he still needs to get through that conference, which is held once every four years, which will vote in the 21 members of the Central Committee. Then the committee needs to decide on the various posts.

As for Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who is now also Second Defence Minister. I don’t know what to say… Don’t you think he has enough to do in Transport?

PS. I would like to congratulate Mr Masagos on his promotion and for the rest of the ministers, good luck in your new portfolios!!

Chewing on the Jover Chew case

In News Reports on November 7, 2014 at 12:36 am

There was a man called Jover Chew
We hope his kind are far and few
Too many people did he screw
All they can do is rant and rue
The day they met Jover Chew

What did he do, this Jover Chew?
He made people pay more than their due
So why not sue this Jover Chew?
He cannot be found
He’s made no sound
Or he’ll be skewered, ’tis true

Apparently, there’s a whole new lingo for the unsuspecting people who get conned in Sim Lim Square. You’re an “ayam’’ if you got tricked into paying more, for example. (For the blur, “ayam’’ is chicken in Malay). That’s according to TNP, which reported a variety of ways in which unscrupulous retailers and their henchmen extract more than their due, like adding an extra zero to credit card bills, putting prices in code, placing a finger over dubious clauses, extracting an in-house warranty after the consumer has put his signature on a contract, not allowing refunds because the fine print in the contracts say so, and ominously announcing that the place is “monitored’’ by cameras.

I think that as a local, I would try to face down such rogue merchants. But I would be intimidated if I was a foreigner in a strange land and would probably “give in’’ to save any trouble. It seems that these rogues are on the lookout for tourists, especially those intending to leave the country soon. Then no time to complain mah…

All I can say is that Mr Jover Chew comes across as a thug, so much so that even his wife has distanced herself from him, if you believe her. She runs a mobile shop too and she’s now the owner of the infamous Mobile Air that Mr Chew runs. So quick change name liao! When he was interviewed by TNP, Jover Chew painted himself as a victim of sorts, suffering because of demanding and unreasonable customers. The gall!

So what did Mr Chew do to make himself such a pariah?

Besides the fact that his Sim Lim shop chalked up the most number of customer complaints – 25 – to Case between August and October, his claim to fame is paying an unhappy customer more than $1,000 in coins after the Small Claims court directed him to, and making a Vietnamese kneel and beg for a refund (while laughter was heard all round).

He is now a persona non grata and has been incommunicado since news of his shenanigans broke. In fact, besieged by netizens who CSI-ed him, he transferred his number to that of the TNP journalist, who received more than 200 calls on his line yesterday. He’s a real piece of work, he is.

Netizens are baying for his blood; MPs are asking for tougher laws; the Chinese have sent out an advisory warning its people about buying stuff from Sim Lim Square in Singapore. Sigh. And what is CASE up to? Or even the police? Seems their hands are tied because the thugs didn’t break any law; they just “assaulted our sensibilities’’ as Manpower minister Tan Chuan Jin said in a Facebook post.

You can take them to the Small Claims Tribunal, like the recipient of Mr Chew’s coins did. You can also sue under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, except they will simply close down, wind up and emerge under a different name. Then, they use friends and relatives as shadow directors of the company, while they run the show.

Seems there’s a Voluntary Compliance Scheme that CASE wants the shop to sign, so that it can take action if it breaches any undertaking. The key word is “voluntary’’ no? It’s not something that can be “served’’ on the shop yes? What’s the bet that Mr Chew will sign? In any case, only a grand total of EIGHT shops signed it between March 2004 and December 2013. Five have had injunctions taken out against it. Seems three others are still “okay’’. The CASE position is, what else? Caveat emptor…!

In the meantime, while the law looks on limply at Mr Chew, lawyers are saying that it can be used against the vigilantes who “exposed’’ and harassed the man and his wife. The new Protection From Harrassment Act isn’t in force yet, but such vigilantes can be hauled on charges of being a “public nuisance’’, it seems. After all, his wife has filed a police report which means that the police would be bound to investigate.

It would be ironic – and tragic – if it was Mr Jover Chew who ended up having the last laugh.

An unproductive time

In Money, News Reports, Politics, Society, Writing on October 1, 2012 at 1:14 am

What’s the job of the news media? It’s to make sense of what people are saying, put stuff in perspective and tell me what’s important. I read and re-read ST’s piece today on MOM Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s blog and kept wondering what’s the point he’s trying to make…After all, did he already say most of these things in Parliament before? Or is there some new nugget somewhere? All that mass of numbers – all to show that the G is on “the right track’’? I was having a very unproductive morning. I was wondering if I should whip out my calculator and see if there was more to the figures on WP, S passes etc and decided, in my laziness, that I should just see if Today did a better job. It did. And it also helpfully provided me with what Tan Chuan Jin said in his blog in its comment pages. ST didn’t do the minister any justice, I thought. What I found intriguing is the higher absolute numbers of Spass holders.
From January to June, the number of work permits for low-skilled workers increased by 20,600 – largely due to foreign construction workers – and S Passes for mid-skilled workers grew by 14,200. Employment Passes for managerial or executive-level foreigners contracted slightly by 700 – the first half-yearly reduction since 2009 when a recession hit.

The “strong growth” in S Passes is likely due to companies using them to bring in more junior-level professionals, managers and executives now that Employment Pass requirements have been tightened, said Mr Tan. “We are taking a close look at this group,” he wrote.
In Parliament, he had talked about the higher rejection rate. Seems this rate isn’t translating into lower absolute numbers, which is what people want to see. Makes you think there’s a loophole somewhere. Can’t get EP so see how to smuggle them under SPass?
Then of course, there is all this talk about raising productivity. When I hear about our productivity being so low, I keep wondering if we’re lazy or stupid. We’re not right? Anyway, MOM’s Tan went on in his blog about some Hotel scheme to allow workers to train to straddle different jobs. I wonder if this is one of the 160 schemes offered by the G to help firms raise productivity. I mean, 160???? So if there are so many schemes and we still so unproductive, what does it mean? The whole thing is too confusing for SMEs? If I were an SME boss, I’d apply for as many as possible – like a welfare shopper. Or maybe I will find myself strangled by red tape. As a taxpayer though, I wonder if agencies are duplicating each other in their efforts. Time to prune the tangle, as is now being done for welfare cases, so that the agencies will be more productive in their productivity efforts?

I had two other “unproductive” moments:
a. Having to read PM on page 1 of ST. It’s exhortation and dragged out to make a story. Seems a better news story is further inside, on how retail investors can now have a better shot at subscribing to a company’s IPO.
b. Having to read TNP’s Cecilia Sue story. Yesterday, it rehashed the whole court case albeit with a nice concept of Victim/Vixen and a piece on the court gawkers. There’s another piece on the gawkers today….Enuff already. Just tell me who those burly guys around her are!!!!