Another load of rubbish from MTI

by Lin Yanqin and Wong Wei Han
04:45 AM Sep 26, 2012

SINGAPORE – If Singapore does not continue to allow for a “calibrated” inflow of immigrants and foreign workers, Singaporeans have to be prepared for little economic growth, limited real increases in wages, and insufficient manpower in the health and social services sectors to serve the Republic’s ageing population, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI) Occasional Paper on Population and the Economy released yesterday.
At a press conference, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang reiterated that, as the economic growth trajectory slows and the workforce ages and shrinks, Singapore has to complement the resident workforce with a calibrated rate of immigration and foreign worker inflow, even as it seeks to raise the productivity of businesses and encourage more residents to enter and stay in the workforce.
Without these three measures in tandem, the Republic would struggle to reach the economic growth target of 3 to 5 per cent in the years ahead, and keep the real wages of Singaporeans growing, he noted.
The National Population and Talent Division is putting together a White Paper on population policies, due out early next year. The MTI’s Occasional Paper seeks to provide Singaporeans with a clearer understanding of the trade-offs involved, when it comes to foreign manpower.
Mr Lim said: “In the end, this is a national conversation. If Singaporeans say ‘no, we are no longer interested in 3 to 5 per cent (growth), we want 1 per cent (growth)’, well, that’s the outcome of the exercise. We just have to be sure that everyone goes into it with a clear mind, that we understand the trade-off, and we are taking that trajectory.”
Observers TODAY spoke to noted that, while Singaporeans may see the rationale behind the economic arguments, other considerations could come into play.
For example, some Singaporeans may reject the necessity of having more foreign labour or immigrants because “they don’t necessarily enjoy the benefit of maintaining foreign workers, which can create wealth and help develop our economy,” said SIM University economist Randolph Tan.
“Instead they are penalised by the presence of foreigners due to increased property prices or job market competition,” he said.
National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan noted that it can be hard for individuals to “look beyond their personal unhappiness for the well-being for the nation”.
“The macro economic scenario is not easy for everyone to understand,” said Associate Professor Straughan. “So the way forward is about trust in the Government in that what they say is true, and they have to come down and woo the public.”
In the Occasional Paper, the MTI described the importance of the foreign workforce, pointing out that foreign manpower has helped Singapore restructure its economy to tap into emerging sectors where the necessary skills are not immediately available. It has also given Singapore the flexibility to respond quickly to economic opportunities when they come along.
Foreign manpower also help to “cushion Singaporeans from unemployment during downturns”, the paper added.
Moreover, given the improving educational profile and rising aspirations of Singaporeans, fewer Singaporeans will be willing to take up less-skilled jobs, and foreign workers can help meet the demand for labour in these sectors.
While there have been concerns about the presence of foreigners depressing wages, taking away jobs and even encroaching on space, Mr Lim noted that “it depends which sector you are talking about”. “What this paper tries to address is, instead of this generality that I am unhappy with foreign workers, well, talk about your sector. Which sector are you in, are you in the healthcare sector? Are you receiving services from the healthcare sector? Well, if you’ve got no foreign workers, be prepared to pay higher cost,” Mr Lim said.
The MTI paper also pointed out that a foreign workforce could help check consumer inflation in domestically-oriented sectors like retail and F&B, which economist Tan Khee Giap agreed was valid.
But the co-director of Asia Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy also noted that, on the other hand, the cost of things like housing could go up as a result of a larger population in Singapore – partly fuelled by immigrants – driving up demand. “It comes back again to the question of coordination between ministries and stat boards to meet the needs of an expanded population, and whether policies are in place,” he said.

Pro foreigner policies only work for jobs that locals do not want to do like construction industry etc and unless there is a level playing field for other jobs for PMETs, any kind of properganda will not work as we Singaporeans today are educated and could easily find other countries experiences to reference to, the Singapore Government can forget to try to spoon feed us to accept their draconic policies that only make Singaporeans suffer for their own benefits, nothing will work unless “YOU PUT SINGAPOREANS FIRST”.
I challenge the Government of Singapore if they are unable to ensure continued economic growth, then give up the running of Singapore and let others who can. We do not need incompetent persons getting the highest paid salaries in the world who cannot solve problems effectively.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

If Mitt Romney were to run America, wouldn't it be like Singapore?

I can normally remain dispassionate about touchy feely subjects and go about my daily life in oblivion and glee, but after I read this article, I cannot resist but speak up because these aren’t abstract political issues to which I can pretend are background noise swishing around on TV, but first-hand experiences which impacted my peers and I, evoking a strong emotional response in me, since I experienced the stark contrast of living in oppressive societies/Southern states that stifle your growth and creativity (without you even knowing it) and then from living in liberal progressive West Coast states (then your eyes are open that the former way of living is not a norm), then you get heartbroken coz you feel like you’re cheated to believe otherwise for over two decades by places that you love(d) and call(ed) home/went to school at.
Here’s the thing. If you let a businessman like Mitt Rob-Me, who has been rolling in money for too long, run your country, it might very well just turn out just like Singapore – an inhumane corporation with a zero-tolerance policy for mediocrity and for people who cannot help themselves. Dear America, use Singapore as your case study if you wanna have a taste of how a country focused only on the bottom-line dollars and cents looks like. OOPSIE DOOSIE, THERE, I SAID IT.

“The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.”

I once agreed and held on to that belief for a very long while (that is what 2 decades of conversative indoctrination does to you), but then I realize that is just a deluded and oversimplified view of the world.
What David Brooks say is right.

“People are motivated when they feel competent. They are motivated when they have more opportunities. Ambition is fired by possibility, not by deprivation, as a tour through the world’s poorest regions makes clear.
But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. “

There is a reason why Silicon Valley keeps producing adolescent CEOs, because they value competency and relevant skill-sets more than age, gender, race and all the other fluff that a bunch of self-important people created to “put you in your place and pay your dues” and to honor protocols that do not enable progress, but bottlenecks. Protocols that are not just there to keep you in check, but back in chains. There is a reason why places with more risk-tolerance are pioneering the new future. Quirky, started by a 25-year-old just raised 68 million to change manufacturing and possibly make factories obsolete (gasp, the jobs!). China, you hear that? Step up your game or we don’t need you anymore because the third industrial revolution is upon us. 3D printing is taking on the conversative healthcare industry by allow you to use cells instead of ink to print out kidneys. Amazon has already revolutionized the publishing/retail bookstore industry and will continue to do so as authors turn down half-a-million dollars advanced offers from traditional publishing. HowCrowdfunding is disrupting traditional funding models and leveling the playing field for young upstarts. How can you not get excited by the boundless energy and opportunities? The Obama administration amplifies the whole start-up culture more than any other administration in history. His economic team devoted a full chapter to the startup topic in the 2011 Economic Report of the President, his economic team devoted a full chapter to analyzing the importance of startups, the first ever.
So the problem isn’t with me not appreciating what I’ve got anymore now is it? Ask me to work within the system? Sure, I suck it up and did it. But what if you work harder and harder only to find yourself standing still, not because you suck (even though some misguided people would feed you with such outdated poisonous world-views, and if you stay long enough you might very well believe them), but because the system works against you and you cannot single-handledly fight against it. They keep you so busy trying to feed yourself and your family that you don’t even time to realize that you’re on a sinking ship. How many of my well-educated friends are taking up menial jobs for insulting pay and then go on to grad school, raking up even more debt, for an outdated business curriculum, taught by second-rate Professors without real world experience because they are confined within the safety wombs of academia? A curriculum that finds it increasingly hard to keep up with the ever-fluctuating business world?
YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING WHO DESERVES MORE THAN BEING A MODERN SLAVE IN CHAINS DEPRIVED OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS, unless, of course, you actually like masochism or/and they are golden handcuffs, to which, maybe even I can consider that coz they are golden handcuffs are very gorgeous and i do it out of vanity. This is not to say I’m not grateful for the employers and headhunters who graciously offered me jobs, taking a huge gamble on a young punk like me by giving me high-visibility roles which allowed me to manage people of similar ages or older than me and to work on interesting fast-growth projects that accelerated my learning curve and career trajectory in the industries that I wanted to be a part of. That, I cannot be more grateful for. But the issue here isn’t with the corporations. Corporations focused on profits, justifiably so, and would reduce costs by giving our jobs to foreigners. The issue here is with the government for not enforcing the rules that is best for their citizens. Sure, Obama didn’t deliver results as he had promised in rhetoric due to many other factors like an extremely depressed economy and political gridlock, but his intentions are there. He fights for the little guys and is quick to regulate the big boys.

“The president may see a complex American system that is designed to produce successful businessmen as the means to broader prosperity, while business leaders may instead focus on their role as the creators of prosperity.”

Sure, PAY YOUR DUES, but what if you never stop paying your dues for an elusive retirement plan that you never get to enjoy, and all these, through no fault of your own but a system that is inherently flawed. You trust that if you work hard (and smart), you’ll get ahead – but this only happens if the system has a leveled-playing field in the first place and recognizes that “talent” comes in many different forms.
People who have a high awareness of these circumstances will find it very hard to keep silent because you feel the injustice. I’m not a complainer, I’m just bring up these issues for healthy intellectual discourse. I tempted to envy people who can remain apathetic and never wonder how it would feel to have been born to a less privileged family and refuse to hear the sufferings of other people who do not touch them personally but like J.K Rowling said in her timeless commencement speech to Harvard students, these people suffer from their own type of agoraphohia and they see more monsters in their sleep. True wisdom isn’t derived from the 4 walls of your library, but by understanding others do you derive true wisdom.

“Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.”
People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.
Benjamin Franklin

 By Melissa Lim –

“The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!”
Napoleon Bonaparte

TOC thanks the author for her contribution. She is a college graduate who was
born and raised in Singapore.

Do you think you will retire comfortably with enough CPF without selling your house?

Yesterday, Minister Tharman made this claim based on a study by Ministry of Manpower:

“Young Singaporeans entering the workforce today will have accumulated enough savings in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) when they retire to see them through their golden years.This was one of the key findings from a Ministry of Manpower-commissioned study, revealed Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.Based on the current CPF system, the study showed that the savings will “provide a comfortable level of income in retirement, a level equal to a large part of their pre-retirement income”, he said.Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, was speaking at the opening of the two-day Singapore Human Capital Summit 2012, held at Resorts World Sentosa.”

If young Singaporeans can retire properly on their own CPF in the future, it contradicts a major assertion made by the PAP govt on the need to import more foreigners. The key reason given for importing foreigners is there will be fewer younger people working to support the elderly in the future.
If Tharman’s claim is true that our future elderly are financially self sufficient, it throws the key argument that we need to import foreigners to shore up our dependency ratio out of the window. Anyway, I doubt the PAP is going to implement a “tax foreigners to support our elderly” tax structure – they will rather use the money for other purposes. …but that is not the way they sell their policies.
I think Singaporeans really need to think hard and connect the dots…they have to see through the propaganda that is crafted to make us support various govt schemes and policies. While Minister Tharman tells us we will be able to retire under the CPF scheme, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) says we need foreigners to come in order to support our elderly. Both can’t be true at the same time….but both need to be true for the PAP to avoid changing its policies on CPF and import of foreign talent.
Lucky Tan
* Lucky Tan is an avid online blogger since 2005. He likes to study the thoughts of Singapore leaders and the laws of Singapore. He blogs at

Gaucher's Disease can be cured by cloning of the enzyme glucosylceramidase from a healthy source

Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012
YourHealth, AsiaOne
SINGAPORE – 4-year-old Zecia Chew suffers from a rare condition that has caused her tummy to bloat and look like a pregnant woman’s.
She suffers from Gaucher’s Disease – a genetic condition where a fatty substance called lipids accumulates in cells and certain organs.
The disease is characterised by the enlargement of the liver and spleen, fat hoarding and a distended abdomen.
Her limbs are also painfully thin, as they have difficulty absorbing nutrients. Being extremely weak, Zecia is constantly in danger of falling and hurting herself.
And if she falls and hurts herself, her bruises take weeks to heal, as her blood platelet levels are extremely low due to the disease.
It is believed that there are only two known cases of Gaucher’s Disease in Singapore, Chinese daily Shin Min reported.
As both of Zecia’s parents have no history of the illness, it came as a great shock to them when their daughter was diagnosed with the disease.
Unluckily, medical tests revealed that both of them are carriers of the gene. If so, a child has a 25 per cent chance of inheriting the illness.
The first sign that there was something wrong with little Zecia was innocuous enough, her parents Sharon and Avan said.
They noticed that her belly was growing faster than the rest of her tiny frame. Yet she didn’t seem to be eating that much food. Worried, they brought her to see a number of medical practitioners, many of whom said she had “poor digestion”, “too much wind” or “a weak stomach”.
When Zecia finally mastered walking, she did so with huge difficulties, often tripping and falling. Finally in October 2011, Zecia’s bloated tummy, poor sense of balance, frequent complaints of tiredness and many other seemingly unrelated symptoms became too much for her parents to dismiss as “normal” for a child her age.
On October 18, Sharon and Avan received the devastating news – Zecia was suffering from a disease so rare, they had never even heard of it.
Gaucher’s disease ( /ɡoʊˈʃeɪz/) is a genetic disease in which a fatty substance (lipid) accumulates in cells and certain organs. Gaucher’s disease is the most common of the lysosomal storage diseases.[1]:536 It is a form of sphingolipidosis (a subgroup of lysosomal storage diseases), as it involves dysfunctional metabolism of sphingolipids. The disorder is characterized by bruising, fatigue, anemia, low blood platelets, and enlargement of the liver and spleen. It is caused by a hereditary deficiency of the enzyme glucosylceramidase. The enzyme acts on the fatty acid glucosylceramide. When the enzyme is defective, glucosylceramide accumulates, particularly in white blood cells, most often macrophages (mononuclear leukocytes). Glucosylceramidase can collect in the spleen, liver, kidneys, lungs, brain and bone marrow.

Symptoms may include enlarged spleen and liver, liver malfunction, skeletal disorders and bone lesions that may be painful, severe neurologic complications, swelling of lymph nodes and (occasionally) adjacent joints, distended abdomen, a brownish tint to the skin, anemia, low blood platelets and yellow fatty deposits on the white of the eye (sclera). Persons affected most seriously may also be more susceptible to infection. Some forms of Gaucher’s disease may be treated with enzyme replacement therapy.
The disease is caused by a recessive mutation in a gene located on chromosome 1 and affects both males and females. About 1 in 100 people in the United States are carriers of the most common type of Gaucher disease. The carrier rate among Ashkenazi Jews is 8.9% while the birth incidence is 1 in 450.[2]
The disease is named after the French doctor Philippe Gaucher, who originally described it in 1882.[3]

The Cloning of Enzymes
Enzymes that modify nucleic acids provide the foundation for many molecular biology techniques. These enzymes are used to synthesize, degrade, join or remove portions of nucleic acids in a controlled and generally defined manner. Specific features of the in vivo functions of these enzymes have been exploited in vitro to provide many of the protocols currently used in nucleic acid manipulations.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, shut up if you do not intend to solve the FT problem

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: I am very ‘disappointed’ with tone of anti-foreigner feelings on Facebook

Despite rising concerns and frustrations among Singaporeans that they have been ‘short-changed’ by the government’s ultra-liberal immigration and pro-foreigner policies, PAP leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the problem and blame Singaporeans for being ‘anti-foreigner’ and ‘xenophobic’ instead.
Speaking at a dialogue during the Sinda Youth Leaders Seminar yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan expressed ‘disappointment’ at the ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiments prevalent on the internet and urged youth leaders to stand up against such tirades.
‘We need to keep Singapore open and I am very disappointed with the tone of anti-foreigner feelings that I was reading on Facebook,’ he said.
Dr Vivian then repeated the centuries old PAP ‘mantra’ that Singapore ‘succeeded’ because it is OPEN to foreigners:
‘We should never forget how we got here and succeeded because we are an open society and took in talented people, and so we flourished. We need some of you to stand up for us and say this,’ he urged.
PAP leaders have often reminded Singaporeans that they are also descendants of immigrants to force their unpopular immigration policies down their throats. However, the first-generation immigrants came to Singapore to build their homes while the present wave of immigrants are mostly there to take advantage of the benefits made readily available to them.
Meanwhile, anti-foreigner sentiments continue to run high on social media with a Facebook page set up recently calling for Pinoy PMETs to be ejected from Singapore.


QUOTE: “PAP leaders have often reminded Singaporeans that they are also descendants of immigrants to force their unpopular immigration policies down their throats. However, the first-generation immigrants came to Singapore to build their homes while the present wave of immigrants are mostly there to take advantage of the benefits made readily available to them.” Vivian….
Woalan, he cannot see the different between those early migrants before Singapore independent and those foreign migrants today.
Our earlier migrants came to build Singapore from a small fishing port to a First World Country. They worked so hard, they sweat and they bleed. They contributed to Singapore success and built a huge Reserves and now, they are forgotten and left behind as 2nd class citizens.
Today, Foreign migrants are taking over Singaporeans jobs and they enjoy the benefits of what those early Singaporeans had built over the years.
Hello Vivian, can you see the difference now?

Workfare : The Truth is everybody wants CASH, nobody wants CPF because you cannot touch the money until you retire

18th September 2012
I think it may defy common sense as to why anyone would not prefer cash, because cash can be used for housing (like the CPF Ordinary Account (OA)), medical (like the MediSave Account (MA) abeit with restrictions of use), and the Special Account (SA) can only be utilised from age 65 as monthly payouts under the CPF Life annuity scheme?
Even for those who may want the higher interest rate in CPF, they can always use cash to top-up their CPF under the CPF Topping-up scheme.
Workfare helps retirement?
As to “WIS was introduced to help low-wage workers build a retirement nest egg, said Mr Zanal, who heads a NTUC division that looks after contract, casual and low-wage workers, “But the reality is that their net incomes are actually insufficient to help them cope with rising costs”, he said”, I thought the original main purpose of introducing Workfare was to help older low-wage workers increase their wages to help them with their living expenses.
Self-employed: 100% to MediSave
Notwithstanding the above, if the purpose is to help low-wage workers build a retirement nest egg, why is it that 100 per cent of the Workfare payout for the self-employed is to their MediSave?
MediSave helps retirement?
The MediSave of low-wage households may be depleted by rising medical costs.
After all, in theory, isn’t MediFund supposed to help those low-wage families who are unable to pay for their medical expenses, under Singapore’s “affordable” healthcare system?
Workfare ratio – 1 : 2.5 (Cash/CPF)
Clearly, the current Workfare cash to CPF ratio of 1 : 2.5 for workers, is overskewed towards CPF.
For example, for a Workfare monthly payout of $100, only about $29 is cash, with the balance $71 evenly split between the OA, SA and MA accounts. This cash payment of just $29 may not be of much help to low-wage workers, particularly in the light that inflation is now running at 5.3 per cent.
Let the people choose
Actually, there may be a simple solution – have a default option of a combination of CPF and cash, and allow people to opt for cash only.
Leong Sze Hian

Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media. He has also been invited to speak more than 100 times in 25 countries on 5 continents. He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica, Chairman of the Institute of Administrative Management, and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional qualifications. He blogs at
That is the reason I did not apply for any workfare benefits because it does not solve the problems for the low income workers, it is just a “show” that the government is “helping” but what is the use of “money” you cannot put to good use unless you use it to pay your housing loan, but most of the low income is staying in rental flats, will it makes a difference?
– Contributed by Oogle.